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/qst/ - Quests

The Silver Marches (2)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThatSlowTypingG
previous thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Silver%20Marches

You are Ulf, a Giant from the Stillwater plains. Among the tallest of the stone kin, your kind tower above any of the smaller races. With stone or bow you can lay waste to enemies from afar.

In the past you put your natural abilities to good use as a mercenary, working as part of
a siege regiment in the south. Now you've come north into the yet untamed wilds in the hope of finding greater wealth in the Silver Marches. The prospect of being able to test your skills is also a welcome one.

Passing the great Tyrese airship gate, you followed the trade road north. Doing battle alongside soldiers of the Ballidon town guard, you defeated an orc blockade that threatened to cut the trade road to the following caravans. In the process you reaped the rewards of taking several enemies captive.

Here in the north orcs and their kin raid other tribes or southerner settlements in search of captives. Slaves to be used for labour, traded for gold, or in prisoner exchanges with rival tribes and the city. For them this is a way of life rather than a detestable practice that needs to be done away with.

Like other giants to you the concept of slavery seems distasteful but in this case it has worked to your advantage. You traded away captured kobolds and a goblin for a not small amount of silver. One kobold you captured named Jib Jab now accompanies you. Though you generally dislike the thought of small folk sneaking around, Jib Jab is working to use his skills to your advantage as a scout.

In the city of Silver Mantle you've met other giants and plenty of the smaller folk. Some you've done battle alongside, or taken jobs from. The most formidable foe you've faced thus far was an orc necromancer that had left his clan and was preparing to attack caravans on the west road. His necromantic runes were powerful enough to stop even your arrows, at least briefly. Ultimately he wasn't strong enough to survive a pair of arrows the size of ballista bolts through the chest.

Though you've only been here a few short weeks you're making money, allies and -you hope- friends among the locals. There is still much time available for work this season. The threat of winter remains far off, but for any of the settlers outside the city walls preparing for it is of the utmost importance. You saw a few cold winters in the Iron Hills long ago. On this side of the mountains it may be worse than any you've seen.
While returning from a recent job one of your travelling companions brought up the topic of elemental affinity. Apparently many stone kin, and giants in particular, are resistant to some natural and magical elements. Meeting with a half-orc enchanter named Srayagoth you learned a great deal. You're all but immune to injury from lightning it would seem, though you can still feel it slightly.

The enchanter also spoke of an ancient war between the Titans and the stone kin against the gods and smaller races. Greater giants once existed who supposedly weilded powerful elemental weapons. It's possible ruins from those days might have survived in the vast wildlands of the north. So far no ruins of note have been located but much remains to be explored.

After talking it over Srayagoth has speculated that ruins in the north might be found near Titan metal deposits. While the search for the requisite ores to make mithril is considered to be of the highest importance, there are dwarves hoping to find Titan metals as well. It might be worth signing on with such an expedition.

You've resolved to speak with the other giants in the city about this.
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>some more info on how mechanics work, or even just how mechanics driven the quest is. doesn't have to be hard numbers just general ballpark if you want to keep it mostly behind the gm screen. I have no idea of what the dice mean when it's rolled, to be honest I can't even tell with certainty when it's best of 3 or average.

Rolls in the Silver Marches quest.
Available roll types will be impacted by your training in a skill range. You're an archer and as such any sort of roll involving aim will be best of 3.

Untrained rolls will use an average of at least 3 rolls. If you feel that an archer appropriate skill should be used for a particular roll feel free to argue it with an explanation.

1d20 is generally used for combat
1d100 for certain types of abilities and out of combat actions

Roll ranges are: (d20 example)
(1)Crit fail / 2-7 fail / 8-12 average / 13-19 good / (20)crit success

Hidden modifiers may move the precise numbers up or down. Certain situations may result in an auto success based on your skills, in which case I will generally not call for rolls.
Thread discussion topic: Do people prefer being given multiple options to vote for? Or would they prefer leaving it open ended, such as with a:
>What do?

I've heard a lot of things about both ways over the years.
Two or three options with an additional
>What do
for world/character building occasionally
is usually my preferred choice.
This, honestly.
Being given choices makes stuff engaging for the players and makes voting less chaotic.
Also, variety in choices is preferred over
>shoot left
>shoot left, but slightly higher
>shoot in the sky, but arrow falls to the left
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Current schedule looks like I'll be able to run most days this coming week. I do expect that to change as my workplace was trying to call me in this past week even when I was sick and under quarantine.

>Find out more about the city, the region and the world
>Character sheet to keep track of equipment and fund
>Character list to keep track of NPCs

The character list alone is getting rather long. I have been keeping track of money and reputation so it's just a question of putting it somewhere.

Does anyone have experience with wikidot? If so would it be a good choice to put a game wiki on?
You could always use a pastebin. It's fairly useful, if a bit hard to read at times.
Pastebin has a lot of autodetect problems right now but I'll consider it.

Searching for the other giants in town is a trivial matter. You can spot nearly any of them across the more open areas making up the east side of town. Today they're busy working the sawmills. Their ability to heft the larger logs makes work much quicker than with smaller crews. Cirus suggests you meet during their lunch break or at the bar after work if you want to talk.

"You should take a day and look around the city," he suggests.

At the very least it would give you a better idea of where everything is so you can find specific stores and buildings later when you need to. Up until now you've rarely been off the main streets. Antonio's workplace in the tanner district isn't far from the road and Enidon's weapon and item shop is toward the edge of the district. A few hours wouldn't hurt and there's still plenty of time to look for more jobs.

Is there any place in town or the surrounding areas you'd like to learn about?
Having a quick stroll around town doesn't take very long and you learn the locations of a few more shops that could come in handy later.

Catching the other giants on their lunch break you tell them about your discussion with the enchanter. About elemental affinity, the possibility of finding ruins from the ancient times, all of it. Flora is doubtful of the idea of finding such ruins and is concerned the orcs might have been trying to pull a fast one on you.

"They weren't lying about my resistance to lightning damage," you point out.

"Well no, that part they were probably telling the truth about," she admits. "Argen and I are resistant to earth magic, which is next to useless if you ask me. Cirus is like you, he can shrug off lighting magic. If it weren't for my so called affinity to the stone I could probably be a proper mage, not just a spellblade."

Being able to channel magic through a weapon is still intriguing if you do say so.

"Well yes, it's just some day's I'd rather not get in close to have to do it."
As an archer you can certainly appreciate that problem.

You look to the other two giants.
"Do both of you feel the same about ruins from the ancient war? Is it just made up?"

Cirus is wary of tricks the smaller folk might be pulling to convince all of you to sign up for expeditions more cheaply. As a result he's more inclined to back Flora up. All eyes turn to Argen as the three of you wait to see how many words he'll utter today.

At length Argen eventually speaks in stone tongue. His words sound more like the cracking and breaking of mountain ranges than the grinding of stone yours does.
"The sky and stone fought. The stone killed a star. Need weapons to kill a star."

All of you ignore a few of the humans nearby protesting the noise.
Flora huffs, clearly annoyed by Argen's response.
"Alright well, they could have used magic."
"Our kind never had the strongest magic," Cirus points out.

"By the sky and stone, fine then!" the giantess exclaims. "I'll talk to some of my contacts about expeditions looking for Titan metals. I expect it'll be a couple of weeks until I can find one willing to take even one of us at giant pay rates though."

That would give you time to build up relations with the locals and make enough money to get a few items or weapons enchanted.

Before they have to return to work Florna mentions that it's good having a new giant in town willing to take on jobs from the hiring hall. After your last two assignments it seems that others are starting to appreciate the usefulness of the giants a bit more. They're finally starting to get more serious offers for mercenary work. Not as high as she'd like but ones that are actually worth considering.

Did you want to suggest that they may be charging too much? You are new here after all and there might be very good reasons for their high prices if it keeps people from exploiting them. Maybe a temporary drop in prices would make people appreciate them more?
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[ ] Giant hiring rates are too high
[ ] You're new here, keep quiet about it
[ ] Suggest a temporary drop in prices
[ ] Write-in
I have the next post ready to go whenever we get players.
As it's been +4 hours without any player posts I'm going to take a couple of hours do do something with a relative while I wait for any player responses.
>[ ] Suggest a temporary drop in prices

I miss the spreadsheet autism honestly
>I miss the spreadsheet autism honestly
I am using a spreadsheet to track money on my end just because I'd have no idea what you have otherwise.
~1800 silver
4 gold
>[ ] You're new here, keep quiet about it
I prefer something like this: >>4671975
I didn't realize that the thread would be today (because timezones), so I didn't check for it.
>I didn't realize that the thread would be today (because timezones)
Yeah, I probably should have said in the post last night that it would be 8 or 10 hours later.

>[ ] Suggest a temporary drop in prices
>[ ] You're new here, keep quiet about it
Just need a tie breaker.
Resuming in the morning, 8AM 4chan board time.
[ ] You're new here, keep quiet about it
We can always say something later.
While you think lowering their prices temporarily would get the other giants more work, you decide to keep quiet about it. You're new here and after all. Perhaps they had some bad experiences with people putting them in excessive danger without adequate pay. With the others being mainly focused on close combat it would be harder for them to back out of a fight than you.

Over at the hiring hall you see what sort of new jobs are available. As predicted there is elevated demand for rangers, clerics and druids willing to perform a sweep for animals infected with rabies. It doesn't pay well -if at all- and could take awhile.

The two jobs for the Silver Talons Missing Caravan and Red Blades Missing Prospector are both still up. Some established groups have been eyeing these but have been reluctant due to there being so many unknowns.

The Air Corps is sponsoring a prospector mission across the river to the north in the hopes of finding gas deposits.

A trade mission is being assembled to visit an orc tribe to the north east regarding the platinum strike you helped guard. The geologic data alone is worth a strong escort. Because of this other merchants are trying to get their own caravans attached to the group for greater protection. Some are in it for regular trade, others for orcish magical components such as runes and the like.

"Is that everything?"

The halfling Tenn Duskarm pulls out a few more papers.
"There are a few other jobs. The druids are bringing some merchandise into town and need an escort. They're willing to pay slightly above average rates or with product. Whatever it is."

Flipping through some more pages he crosses out a few and pulls out the remainder.
"The rest are all independent contracts. A tracker and escort are needed to bring in some escaped slaves that broke loose.
Another is a guard work for unspecified merchandise. The last is escort for "distribution work," which is an odd way of putting it. I'd be willing to bet money these last two are not on the level."

"What do you mean?"
"I mean they're probably smugglers."
As a reminder these two were available in the previous thread.
>Missing Caravan (Silver Talons)
A settler caravan struck out on the east road intending to cross the river and establish their own village. Apparently they didn't want to be answerable to Silver Mantle or the tithe needed to pay for protection. No one has heard from them in two months and some relatives in the city are willing to pay for news.

>Missing Prospectors (Red Blades)
A well connected prospector has failed to report back from their expedition as planned. Find out if they've been killed or captured. If captured either return to report this or find a way to free them.

Additional details for any of the independent jobs or the druids will require you to talk to specific agents here at the hiring hall.

Available work:
>Missing Caravan (Silver Talons)
>Missing Prospectors (Red Blades)
>Hazard a gas? (Air Corps)
>North East Tribe trade mission (City Admin, Enchanters)
>Read it and weep (Druids)
>Escaped Slaves (Independent Contractor/IND)
>Guard Merchandise (IND)
>Distribution work (IND)

Any of these you might be interested in?
>>Read it and weep (Druids)
Even if it isn't the special bark, becoming friends with them could be a good first step.
>Missing Caravan (Silver Talons)
From what I can remember. We already have some affiliation with them. Let’s hope they recognise us when we visit.
While sorting paperwork Tenn brings up another topic.
"You're probably fine for carrying space when it comes to supplies, but have you thought about getting one of those portable holes? Really useful for moving things in quantity, though the snake kin practically have the market cornered on them."

You've thought about possibly getting a bag of ice holding but that's about it.
"Why would the snake kin have so much control over it? Do they use them for transporting slaves?"

"Hah! As if they'd use something that expensive on slaves. No they use them for wheeling their scaly butts around town without having to touch the mud outside."

You're not quite sure what he means or how that would work exactly. Tenn looks out the window trying to spot something, then points across the courtyard to someone seated in a chair with large spoked wheels on either side. You can't tell if it's a particularly tall human or an elf in the chair, but a helper or servant seems to be pushing them along. Probably a necessity as it looks like the person is missing their legs.

Tenn laughs. "Those wheelchairs may have been meant for people missing their legs or unable to walk under their own power, but some bright spark had the idea to mount a portable hole on one. That way the larger snake folk dont take up a sidewalk or half the road when they're out and about."

You'll have to keep an eye out for people using these "wheelchairs." As for a portable hole you're not really in need of such a thing right now. Might be useful for carrying your stock of arrows out on a longer mission though.
The talk of these portable holes does give you an idea though. Something you really should have asked Srayagoth about this morning.
"Portable holes and things like that, they lead to an empty space?"

"That's right. There are big ones and little ones. The bigger they are the more it costs to magic them up."
"Could you connect two of them together?"

Tenn shakes his head.
"Using them to connect two points to the same empty space? You're thinking teleportation magic. It doesn't work that way and what everyone has told me is that it's really dangerous."

Well it was an idea.

"Hold on Ulf. Now, it's not as good as being able to move things between two points but what if I know of a way to send messages between two points?"
You're listening.
"You've probably heard of messenger spells right? Well it's nothing like that. Those are a pain and everyone hates them. I've heard a few people from the blades and talons talking about sympathetic link stones. Turns out they were completely wrong about how the magic in them works. You don't need stones or sympathetic idols for it to work, just two bits that need to be enchanted together."

"Tenn you are losing me," you have to admit.

"Look, you get two of these sympathetic link amulets made and two people can talk to each other over a long distance. Great if two people need to keep in touch. Supposedly the Air Corps office in the city has one that's connected to a place in the south. I dont know how well it works at that distance but I hear that it does actually work."

Hopefully that's not a state secret he's revealed.
"If it is they're doing a lousy job keeping it under wraps."
Did you want to see if it were possible to take on both of these jobs? The Druid one could probably be done rather quickly.
>sympathetic link amulets
sounds useful for coordinating with Jib Jab
And the pastebin is up.
>Read it and weep (Druids)
>Missing Caravan (Silver Talons)

"Could I sign up for both of these jobs?"

Tenn frowns.
"Normally not at the same time, but what I can do is put down that you're available to take this on in two? Three days time? That should attract a few more people and give them time to get ready. Not everyone has steady access to horses."

That's a good point. Most people would have difficulty keeping up or you'd have to stroll along much more slowly than you'd like.
Tenn asks for your map and marks the location of a druid stronghold on it that's to the north west.
"You might want to try and recruit a few more people to go with you," he suggests.
"The more you show up with the sooner they're likely to get rolling."

Do you want to try and recruit any of the sellswords you've previously worked with? None of the rangers are likely to be available but some of the others are likely around the hiring hall somewhere. You also saw that some of the ranchers that were hoping to go after wild Bison are still in town.
>Do you want to try and recruit any of the sellswords you've previously worked with?
Yes. No preference towards any of them specifically.
Yes. Ferith, Neia, and Aeson in particular.
You know that the cleric Ferith might be young and inexperienced, but he does have access to a horse. That would allow him to keep pace with you. The same goes for the elven mage Aeson. Some of the others from your last job might also be good to have along.

First looking then asking around, you're directed to the assembly field to the west of the hall. Quite a few members of the Silver Talons are present here, discussing jobs and trading supplies and equipment.

The centaur Neia stands out thanks in part due to what you'd thought was a helm with horns attached to the front of it. As it turns out they're actually small antlers, something you hadn't realised before.
As you approach you see the distinct white and brown feathered fluffball of the Harpy Ocette sitting on a nearby fence post. She seems to be asleep and neither the centaur or the half-elf Cellica are paying her any mind.

Cellica is the first to notice your approach.
"Hello Ulf, I hope Argigoth and his brother were able to help you out?"

They were you explain, but now you're looking for others to team up with for one or two jobs outside the city. It doesn't take long to tell them of the ones you're interested in.

"I will join you to help the druids," Neia says flatly. This is not an offer, it's a statement.

Cellica takes more time to think it over.
"I could get a horse but for Gegor and Argigoth they wouldn't be able to requisition more in time for the druid mission. I'm sure they'd be happy to help search for the missing caravan but Argigoth really wanted to go on the trade mission that's being prepared."

"I hoped to recruit two more I had met. A cleric and a mage," you explain.

"Well that would be good. I know Ocette likes seeing other druids so she should be fine with coming along. I'll talk to Gegor and Argigoth and see if they're interested."

After promising to meet back here you head for the temples. Ferith is easy to find doing some minor healing outside, and is quick to jump at the prospect of going on another adventure.

As you expected Tara has already left with many of the other rangers in town. The elf Aeson is more difficult to find. When you do track him down he's reluctant to come along at first until hearing the druids are offering more than just just money.
"I know what product they're likely to be moving. Not terribly dangerous, but can be annoying for opponents and allow for a quick getaway."
Neia shows up at the hiring hall with a halfling archer by the name of Tim hitching a ride.
As expected Gegor and Argigoth wont be able to go with you on the druid mission. The Paladin however is prepared to accompany the group in search of the missing caravan in a few days time.

Do you want to try and recruit any of those ranchers or is this a large enough party?
Yeah. More hands makes for a lighter load.
I think the current party is fine. (Maybe +1 member if helps with a tie)
I hope +2 people is okay because I'm not counting on many more players being around to break a tie.
Figuring more people would be better should the group run into trouble, you approach some of the ranchers that you'd briefly talked to before. If they're burning through money every time they try to go after those bison they're going to be in need of coin.

The settler isn't interested as he's not much of a fighter. Two others are up for it, their bard Aman Rosales and a spellgun Trilah Lylth you hadn't met before.
"Yes I'm a man," Trilah confirms. "I know people have trouble telling with elves sometimes."

Though it's getting late in the afternoon by the time everyone is ready, the centaur suggests the group get moving now to cover as much distance as possible.
"The sooner we get there the better our chances of returning to the city untroubled."

Moving out from the city gates the party heads north west at a fast clip. The riders staying ahead while you take up the rear, long strides eating up the distance allowing you to easily keep pace.

Ocette flies up high above, scouting ahead and watching for any signs of trouble. As it gets closer to sunset she begins to fly lower and lower, increasingly giving the impression she might try to land on one of the horses. Or on top of the centaur.

Neia hefts her spear.
"If you land on my head I'll turn you into a pincushion!"
Ocette seems to take this threat seriously and makes a point of staying away. Aman and Trilah seem to get a kick out of this interaction.

Eventually the party has to stop for the night, setting up camp and starting a small fire alongside the road.

Any questions or conversation topics you'd like to ask members of the party?
>Trilah Lylth
More about what it is, why they decided to become one, and where they are headed in life.
how long they've been in the north and how they like it
have they heard anything about titan ruins
I am writing btw, this is just taking a bit.
You ask Trilah Lylth about Spellguns. You don't know much about them. Was it their choice to become one?

Trilah shakes his head and draws their weapon, showing it off. It looks a bit like one of the hand crossbows you saw in the weapon and item shop run by the gnome Enidon. There are many differences though, like a lack of string and limbs for starters. Where you would normally expect to see a bolt is instead a series of metallic rings and a tapered rod that must be a wand. An assembly at the back of the weapon looks like it's keeping the wand from moving around.

"There are so many myths and misinformation about these weapons I have a hard time telling where to start. A lot of stories you hear in the south say that anybody can pickup a wand and use it. Same for one of these. That's blatant lies and fantasy.
There has to be some magic in your blood to spark off a wand, and you have to be able to focus to make use of it a certain way. For instance, I cant use a spellblade weapon. I just can't focus my magic through one of their weapons the way its needed. The same is true the other way. Any spellblades you know cant use one of these guns."

"But a full mage could theoretically use either right?" Cellica asks.

"I doubt it," Trilah answers.

Aeson however disagrees.
"It is possible, but would require additional training. Mages can use most wands but weapons like yours are much more precise. Few mages can be bothered to train themselves in the precise focus needed when other more powerful spells are right at their fingertips.
It requires a great deal of discipline to do what you do."

Trilah shrugs. "Thanks for the compliment but aside from the basic focus I mostly consider it to be good aim."
He twirls his weapon by the trigger guard and holsters it.

"How did you get the actual weapon though?" you ask. "It can't have been cheap."
"It wasn't easy. I'll save that story for another time though."

Next up you share that you've been in the north for most of a month now and wonder how long everyone else has been here.

Ferith answers that he was born here. His parents and siblings have a farm not far outside the city. He hopes that some day he can visit the storm coast with some of the paladins.

Aeson like most of the Ice Elves is from the airless plateau and only arrived recently by his reckoning. He's spent the last 5 years helping out the city with defense, or enchanting ice magelocks. He's hopeful that he can help out relations between his people and the city for greater trade.

"Everyone knows you moved here to keep an eye on my mother," Cellica comments.
This draws a few looks, though about half of those present nod in agreement.

You look around, trading glances with Jib Jab then Neia, who doesn't seem to know what's going on either.
"What do you mean?"
Cellica sighs as though she's had to go through this explanation a few times before.
"There's a ton of half-elves in the north because my mother and another Ice Elf were exiled for trying to take control of the airless plateau two hundred years ago. They want to raise an army of half-elves to march back in there and conquer the place."

"You look to the others to see if this is a joke.
"Uh... is this true?"

"It's certainly true there are more than a hundred half-elves up here," Aman confirms.

Ferith seems to have a moment of realisation.
"Oh! That explains a lot."

Cellica explains she's spent most of her life looking after siblings or other children. That includes Ocette and her sister Odette when they were orphaned. She's more than happy adventuring with her harpy friend for the foreseeable future.

Aman Rosales has lived in the area since his family moved here when he was a child. Most of the time he's busy helping out various farms, but he's been setting aside more time each year to making money through the hiring hall.
"Still haven't decided if the best way to make a livelihood is through the blade, the lasso or plucking the strings on my Tanbur."

Ocette wants to see new places but doesn't want to be by herself when doing so.
"If I can make money just by traveling around with people that seems nice. The trees are different to talk to in some places too."

Neia only arrived in the area two years ago. She met Tim and a few other halflings that were on an expedition to chart the rivers up into the eastern plains a few years ago. She and a few other centaurs have moved here since. Her plan is to eventually return to the plains with a wagon load of items and weapons her people dont have access to.

"There are giants out on the plains that wander just as far as we do, if not farther."
Tim is another marcher native. His ancestors came north with the Red Blades, either as mercenaries or part of their support.
"I don't think the north is as full of excitement as people from the south make it out to be. There's plenty of work to be done and someone has to do it. No point in shying away from it. Sure I'm good with a bow, but I'm just as good with piloting a canoe through rough water. Might as well use what I'm good at if the opportunity presents itself."

>have they heard anything about titan ruins
Neia's comments about giants farther north and east into the plains leaves you wondering. Its possible they may have seen where some of these giants are going to or from. Did you want to share any of your plans to hunt for ruins at this time? Keep it to yourself? Or just ask about ruins in general?
mention being interested in the ruins but don't bring up the elemental weapons
Subtlety may not be your forte but for now you'll hold off on saying anything about the elemental giants and long term plans.

"You must have seen more of the north than most. Have you ever encountered any ruins during your travels?"

"Burnt down orcish settlements I think. Destroyed in wars and raids, or by lightning strike. In the dry season lightning can be a serious threat for the risk of starting fires. Our people have to be ready to move quickly if that happens. The winds can create fire storms unlike anything you've seen."

Cellica is surprised people don't blame that sort of thing on fire elementals.

Neia shakes her head. "Elementals are rare. I've heard from kin that earth elementals are sometimes seen to the west, closer to the coast mountains."

Ferith begins searching through his things. "I'm writing that down! Be prepared for earth elementals near the coast."

You're rather disappointed she hasn't heard of any older ruins, but at the very least it should narrow down your search of where not to look.
Belatedly realising Jib Jab hasn't had a chance to really introduce himself you ask him to say a few words. He's apparently being treated quite a bit better since being picked up by you. The orc tribe he was with were not exactly the nicest people when it came to treatment of the kobolds. He and most other kobolds working for that tribe were provided as tribute by a kobold warren to stave off attacks the orcs.

For now he's focusing on getting better with his sneaking, rope climbing and using his dagger.

"Give us some warning if you decide to throw Jib Jab at any enemies," Tim jokes.
You assure the kobold you have no intention of throwing him unless it's his idea, much to his relief.

The party takes turns standing watch at night and sets out in the morning without incident. It doesn't take too much longer to reach the druid stronghold. Plant growth is thick here in many places, though there are many clearly marked trails branching off the road and into the undergrowth. You have to duck underneath the occasional branch and even Neia has to watch for some of them.

Eventually you're met by a party of druids in various robes or other rough looking clothing. They check the stamped paperwork from the MMRC then usher you past walls of vines into a large clearing. Some of the structures around the edges of the clearing seem to be grown almost out of the ground itself.

Farther back you can see what has to be a number of golden trees. A big old one and two smaller ones are all bedecked in leaves as shiny as gold.

"This is a nice place," Ocette remarks.
A decrepit looking old woman who certainly fits the definition of a hag approaches, leaning slightly on a heavy staff.
"Welcome, I hope you had a pleasant trip on the way here. I can't promise it will be so nice on the way back. We have product that needs selling and I know first hand some of the thieving bastard in the city are willing to slit some throats to get their hands on it."

She pulls up her robes enough to show greenery stitching together parts of her leg. Ferith is quick to jump forward asking if she needs some healing.

"No. I'll live or die as one with the wilds, but until then work still needs doing. That's why I asked for sellsword to help guard the next set of wagons going out. I'm not tolerating bullshit like what happened last time where I almost lost this leg."

"What is it we're guarding?" Neia asks.
A few of the others also want to know if they're potentially being compensated in whatever is being moved.

"Some bits and bobs made with druidic magic, hemp rope and more delicate items."
The hag ambles over to one of the wagons and grabs a rather small jar. One of hundreds that are packed into padded crates.

"If prepared right the contents of some of these jars can be used for many things. Including a few even the dwarves appreciate. The ones on this wagon are different. You wouldn't want to take a whiff of this."
The old woman gleefully toys with the container.

"What is it?" Aeson warily asks, stepping forward to look into the back of the covered wagon.

"We're calling it tear gas."

>Any interest in acquiring some in place of silver for your payment?
Yeah. We could tie a jar near the head of our arrow shaft and make effectively a bomb arrow.
supporting: >>4674415
ask about what it does, and how long the effect lasts
"Tear gas? What does it do?"

"The liquid inside will turn into a gas when the containers are broken open. If you've ever had a bad experience with an onion before the results are like that but so much worse. Let me know if you make the bastards who cut my leg suffer from it."

Pulling out one of your arrows you begin looking back and forth between it and the jar, trying to gague their size. When the old hag notices what you're up to a grin begins to creep across her face.
"Young man I think you're working on making me a very happy old lady. Hand me a few of those arrows."

You do as she asks but she seems to regret it as the druid cant really manage that many of the large bolts.
"Serstan come here!" She waves a younger druid over. "I want you to shape a few of these arrows for our large friend here. One big that can hold a whole jar and two small ones with the arrow heads still on them."

By the time the wagons are ready the young man had returned and hands the arrows back to you. Has had the steel arrow head removed completely, a jar of tear gas replacing it. The other two now have small hollows formed into the wood just behind the head large enough to hold a tiny flask.

"As much as I may enjoy to hear about it, you should try and save the big one for especially large groups. The smaller ones should create a large enough cloud when they burst to send a handfull of people running. If they don't run they'll quickly regret it."

>Tear gas arrows unlocked!
>You can buy replacement breakable flasks from shops in Silver Mantle.

"Just be careful not to shoot it into mud. There might not be enough of a jolt to shatter the flask and the water might neutralize the gas... so don't use them when it's raining either."
As the three wagons roll out Tim joins the druids in the first one allowing Neia to move about more freely. Each wagon does have a driver and a second armed with a crossbow. After attacks on previous runs they're expecting trouble.

Aman and Trilah are riding ahead while Cellica and Ferith are staying near the rear for now. Aeson and Neia are near the middle where they can quickly move to help either group. Ocette is keeping watch from above, occasionally swooping down to land on top of the middle wagon to report what she sees.

Where did you want Ulf and Jib Jab?
>Where did you want Ulf and Jib Jab?
At the rear. Ulf looking to the sides and the other guards. Jib Jab on his shoulder looking behind
I am burning out. I'm not used to starting so early in the day and usually I'm more or less done before the 12 hour mark. Stopping here for the day and will be resuming Tuesday I hope.

Thank you for those who have been participating thus far.
Just caught up. I wanted to say, you're doing a great job. You have a new regular player.
Support, stick to the rear and have Jib Jab be our eyes on the back of our head.
Thanks for explaining. A character sheet or just a list of trained skills would be nice and enable better decision making I think.
Sticking to the rear as anon suggests seems smart>>4674557

>That map
Did you by any chance participate in aspiring emperor quest back in the day?
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>some more info on how mechanics work
>A character sheet or just a list of trained skills would be nice and enable better decision making I think.
What sort of stuff would you like on a character sheet? I'll say right now I don't intend to be using things like hit points, more like hit locations. A bit like pic related.

Any attacks I list are going to be quite basic at the moment. I am admittedly not terribly knowledgeable about archery, though I have been watching some youtube videos on the topic.
If there are other types of attacks or skills you would like to work on training, or think should be added to a character sheet please let me know.

Affinity: Lightning (Negates lightning damage)
Racial Perk: Greater Stone Kin (Giant Strength, Improved toughness, Lesser Stoneskin)

Weapons: Giant Wooden Bow, Giant Dagger, Steel Reinforced Bracer, Sling bag + 3 throwing stones
Equipment: Reinforced Leather Armor, high capacity backpack, Giant Quiver

Attacks, Melee: Smash, Stone Smash, Giant Dagger Slash, (Lesser)Bracer Smash
Attacks, Ranged: Skillful Stone Throw, (Lesser)Big Stone Throw, Portable Ballista (AKA Giant Bow Shot), Rapid Fire, (Lesser)Double shot

Being rather tough creatures giants tend to smash things when they get angry. This is an untrained attack with little precision.
>Stone Smash
Most giants learn quickly how to apply rocks to many problems.
>Giant Dagger Slash
While not terribly accurate, a giant swinging a dagger larger than some swords can be a terrifying prospect. Enough to keep many opponents far away. This functions as an area of effect attack.
>(Lesser)Bracer Smash
You've seen soldiers perform a shield bash before. Your new bracer should let you do something similar you hope.

>Skillful Stone Throw
Any giant can throw stones. Unlike them you can actually aim!
>(Lesser)Big Stone Throw
Just because you can throw a bigger stone doesn't mean you should.
>Rock Barrage
Rapid fire bombardment using any available stones and rocks you have at hand. Stockpiling ammunition before hand is recommended.

>Portable Ballista (AKA Giant Bow Shot)
Your average bow shot if using a bow the size of some siege weapons can be considered average.
>Rapid Fire
High rate of fire at the cost of worsened aim. There may be other ways to make use of this.
>(Lesser)Double shot
Two arrows at once. You haven't done much training with this. Requires increased time to prepare and reduces accuracy.
I'm awake, give me a bit to get rolling.
Can we add:
>Point-Blank Stone Tongue
Yell at adjacent foes to stun and deafen them. Good for when we’re getting swarmed by foes with more sensitive hearing.
"I'll take up the rear," you tell the others. "I can see and shoot over top of the wagons from here."
The young cleric is also nearby where you can help protect him. As long as he's kept safe and healthy healing any injuries sustained by the party should be possible. Jib Jab is told to keep watch for anything you might not see.

The convoy moves fast, making good time on the way back to the city. You'll certainly make it back well before sundown. You just hope those crates carrying vials of tear gas are well padded.

It's starting to look like the others were right about speed being your ally. You're only a few miles from the city now, entering the last bit of forest the road passes before the city plains. Ocette swoops down and lands on the third wagon, reporting she's seen a few riders rushing toward the forest from the direction of some of the homesteads. By now they've reached the road at the other end of the forest.

"Watch for trouble!" Cellica shouts to those up front.

Sure enough it's not too much longer before most of you spot a few men trying to hastily drag a felled tree across the road to block it. Seeing your approach most of them scatter to the cover of the surrounding forest while two take up positions on the road. They quickly pull on hoods to help obscure their faces. One raises a hand as though signalling for the convoy to stop.

The tree isn't far into the road but it's questionable if the wagons would be able to get around it. Turning around would also be if not difficult then time consuming. You could certainly lift the tree quickly but that would leave you vulnerable to attack.

All of this seems to have been set up in a hurry. It's possible your speed meant that they didn't have time to prepare or call in more men. Then again there's no telling how many others might be lying in wait. Ocette will have to take a moment to land in the trees to look through them.

"We are men of the hood!" one calls out. "Surrender the wagons and you shall not be harmed!"

Did you want to stall for time so Ocette can better gauge their numbers, have the wagons halt now a safe distance away while the rest of you engage, or would you rather try and run the gauntlet?

[ ] Stall for time
[ ] Halt and engage
[ ] Run the gauntlet
[ ] Write in
How about this?
>Stone Tongue Shout
Chance to temporarily deafen, stun or frighten friend and foe alike at close range.
[ ] Halt and engage

Lets put one of our heavy arrows directly into the Hooded man calling us to stop.
[ ] Halt and engage
>Skillful Stone Throw
Assuming he’s close enough, just yeet a rock at him before he can react. No need to sluggishly draw the bowllista.
Yeah that sounds like a more proper description. Perfect for the list.
>[ ] Halt and engage
Just need a tie breaker for what weapon we're using.
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"Halt the wagons here where it's safe," you say loud enough for the group to hear.

These 'men of the hood' are armed and based on what the old hag said, prepared to use deadly force against your party. Cellica might be inclined to negotiate but that will probably just give your opponent more time to get ready. Best to strike while the iron's hot.

Moving toward the front of the group as the drivers come to a halt, you draw your bow and line up a shot on the lead bandit. He seems to just be realizing that you're quite a bit taller than the rest of the escort when your first arrow strikes him center of mass. The impact throws him back at least eight feet.

The second man who had been lining up a shot with his own bow now quickly sprints for the cover of the trees, screaming the whole way.
"Giant! Giant! They've got a gods damned giant with them!"
There's a great deal of shouting after that followed shortly after by the ground beginning to shake.

"Watch out for earth magic!" Cellica warns.

The horses seem on the verge of panic as does Ferith.
"Oh crap, are they going to have the ground open up?!"

When the shaking stops you fire another arrow down range to keep heads down. You, Aeson and Neia move up to join Aman and Trilah. By now Ocette has begun looking through the trees to try and determine how many you're facing.
"I see six humans and some rocks."

"What do you mean rocks?" Trilah asks before you notice a rythmic thumping shaking the ground. A misshapen humanoid form about two thirds your hight stomps its way out from the trees. It looks to be made of earth or clay and is followed by two others.

"Aw shit, elementals!" Aman exclaims.
Aeson disagrees. "No, they're Golems. We have to smash their focus stone or subdue their summoner."

You ready another arrow. "Where do we shoot to hit the stones?"
Aeson doesn't know but suggests the head or upper chest.

As the golems begin to move up five of the bandits leap from cover and fire a hail of arrows. Do you intend to help thin out the archers, try to take out the Golems with hits to their control stones, or perhaps disrupt the summoner with tear gas arrows?

[ ] Archers
[ ] Golems
[ ] Tear gas arrow(s)
[ ] BIG Tear gas arrow
[ ] Write in
[ ] Tear gas arrow(s)
Archers are meant to take down high value rear line targets, maybe if we’re lucky one will direct hit him.
>[ ] Tear gas arrow(s)
Rolled 30, 100 = 130 (2d100)

Roll 2d20
All of you scatter to avoid the incoming arrows. Trilah's spellgun lets off a series of metalic sounding 'pings' as he lays down a barrage of magical darts. Aman and Neia duck behind trees on the far side of the road. Aeson meanwhile backs off far enough to raise a wall of ice to help protect the wagons from stray arrows.

Once in cover yourself you switch arrows, readying the two smaller tear gas shots. Jib Jab meanwhile leaps from your shoulder to a branch on the nearest tree.
"Will sneak from above."
"Be careful," you tell him. "I'm not sure how large an area this tear gas will cover."
The kobold nods in understanding then scrambles up the tree, finding a place to leap or swing to the next with his rope and grapnel.

"Ocette, where is their mage?" you ask the harpy.

"Behind a big tree. Second in on the west from where the last golem is."
Stepping out from cover you make note of where the last golem is right now. She seems confident in the mage's location. You'll have to cross to the other side of the road to manage a shot against that tree unless you circle farther around through the forest.

Trilah badly wounds one of the enemies with another volley of fire from his gun.
"Reloading, keep them off me."

"Ulf!" Aeson calls. "Get ready to shoot the first golem, I'm going to freeze it."

That should give you cover to get across the road.

Roll 2d20
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I meant to post this picture...
Rolled 11, 6 = 17 (2d20)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APawXhyoDgk [Embed] [No One's Controlling Me]

Taking the tear gas arrows in your bow hand you draw a regular arrow for immediate use. After signaling you're ready Aeson looks to the other elf loading a wand into their gun.
"Trilah, ready?"
"Then cover us."

Trilah fires a stream of blue sparkling projectiles that seem to home in on some of the bandits. Tim and one of the druids move up to either side of the ice wall and launch a few arrows as additional distraction while Aeson casts a more focused ice spell on the lead golem.

The mud and clay that seem to be making up the creature freezes and begins to crack in places. Satisfied that it should be good enough you move for the other side of the road, firing into the upper body of the golem. The impact is enough to shatter a good portion of the surrounding mass, causing its head to break off and fall to the ground. Spreading cracks cause one of the arms to eventually fall off as well.

A pair of arrows from the bandits strike the heavier armor around your right shoulder. They hit with enough force to penetrate the hardened leather but dont injure you much. The armor slowed them down enough that you can simply ignore them for now.

Once in position you fire off the tear gas arrow in the direction of the mage. It flies up and over the trees closest to the road and looks like it breaks against some lower branches near the target. The two remaining golems that had been trying to maneuver around the remains of the still standing frozen one suddenly halt their advance and begin shambling about.

"Did he get the mage?" asks Tim.

Aeson doesn't answer at first, watching the golems closely. Whatever was wrong with them soon corrects itself, only this time they're not advancing. They seem to be gathering rock.

"Bandits running away!" shouts Jib Jab.
Ocette soon confirms this but you dont catch the rest of her explanation as the golems begin to throw their newly acquired rocks in the direction of the convoy.

"I'm attacking the rear golem!" Neia declares, charging through the brush on the east side of the road. She and Aman look like they're trying to get behind it now that the archers are retreating. That leaves the other golem to you and the mage.

[ ] Combine your attacks with Aeson like before
[ ] Switch to throwing stones and bombard it
[ ] Attempt return to sender with some of the golem's rocks
[ ] Write in
>[ ] Attempt return to sender with some of the golem's rocks
I guess we're going to risk this then.

Roll 1d20
Rolled 7 (1d20)

Thinking fast you drop the bow and step out into the line of fire, trying to grab some of the incoming rocks to throw back at the golems. This isn't something you've done much of. Usually when a giant throws a rock at another they get out of the way. That or try and hit it out of the air with another if they're trying to show off.

You cant quite catch any of them well enough to hang on and hurl them back. On the plus side you're effectively acting as a shield for the rest of the party, keeping damage to the horses, wagons and smaller ones to a minimum. Everyone else had better be using this opportunity to the fullest though. Impacts from any of the rocks you miss are starting to smart and you're having to swat down some of them with your bracer.

The rate of fire drops of significantly when the rear most golem turns their attention to closer attackers. You have to check twice to be certain of what you're seeing. The second golem seems to be surrounded by centaurs identical to Neia, circling and attacking with her spear. It must be an illusion of some kind. You don't see Aman anywhere.

The distraction you've been causing has bought Trilah time to change wands again. This time when he dares to stick his head out his weapon fires a disk of purple energy much like the smaller darts he'd initially started out with. The disk shears through one of the leading golems legs causing it to collapse to the ground.

Aeson uses this opportunity to remove the ice wall he'd put up earlier. It breaks up into smaller spears, shooting skyward before raining down on the collapsed golem, pinning it in place. While you shake off the after effects of the last few hits the mage rushes past you. Summoning a trio of larger ice spikes he drives them through the golem's head, neck and upper chest, eventually hitting its focus stone.

"One hand span below the neck!" Aeson shouts to Neia.

Several images of the centaur draw back their spear and drive the points into the golem's back where the elf indicated. The magical construct spasms briefly then begins to crumble into a pile of mud and clay.

The illusory centaurs vanish and Aman steps out of cover looking drained.
"Holy shit, did we do it?"

Ocette glides down from the trees looking as though she's about to land on your shoulder, then thinks better of it and sets down on the roadside.
"The rest of them are getting away, should we chase them?"

>What say?
I think we should make sure everyone is ok, heal up and then start heading toward our destination.

The bandits started to flee pretty early into the fight. Trying to chase them down with only 3 of us having any real movement speed might not be the best idea.
supporting: >>4677915
"Is everyone unharmed?"

Ferith is soon on the scene to determine just that. You have a few arrows sticking out of your arm and armor but the wounds are hardly what you'd consider serious. The same goes for all of the bruises from rock impacts. Despite this the cleric still insists on patching you up.

Neia was grazed by a rock while most of the others only have minor cuts from arrows. You managed to stop anyone else from being seriously wounded by the thrown rocks. Something the druid from the lead wagon is most certainly grateful for. The most serious injury was Trilah's horse taking an arrow to the hindquarters.

"Ithica's gonna wring my neck for getting another horse injured," the southern elf complains.

Fortunately this is easily remedied with some attention from the cleric.

Tim hops back onto the first wagon and waves for everyone to get moving again.
"We should get to the city as soon as possible before someone else decides to make a run for our cargo."

"What about those bandits?!" Aman exclaims. "They're going to try this again if we let them go."

His friend is less certain.
"I don't know. We might have dodged the worst of that fight when they decided to abandon ship."
"Can't the bird lady follow them?"
"No, not on her own." Cellica firmly replies. "They had a mage. Who knows what they may do if they notice Ocette following them."

Aeson and Ferith drag the dead bandit back to the horses after removing the arrow you'd put through him. Jib Jab brings your tear gas arrow back which you thank him for. With the body loaded and the wagons ready to roll Aeson speaks up.

"Regardless of what choice the rest of you wish to make we need to move now. We have the dead bandit. Dwarven records may help us identify him."

[ ] Go back to the city with the convoy
[ ] Go after the escaping bandits
>[ ] Go back to the city with the convoy
>[ ] Go back to the city with the convoy
The escort is the main priority. Updating the authorities and turning over the corpse for identification can help start a proper search for the bandits.
[ ] Go back to the city with the convoy
The bandits may be regrouping with reinforcements. Let’s get outta here
You shake your head and start walking, kicking aside a few remaining lumps from the golems. The Druids soon get their wagons rolling after you.

"Well I'm sure as hell not going after them without any backup," Aman concludes.
He and his friend continue to argue about the decision on the way back. It's less of question of should they have done it than rather what now. Should they try and get a band together with the guard and potentially go bounty hunting.

Despite the delay that the fight and subsequent patching up cost, the convoy arrives at the city on time. Well before the sun is threatening to approach the horizon. The druids are quite happy and give you an extra canister of tear gas, suggesting you leave it with one of the local alchemists for safekeeping.

Once the paperwork is looked after you pick up 410 silver leaving you at 2236 silver plus your four gold. The others thank you for offering the chance to work together. It might not have been your job, but knowing there would be a giant along to help certainly improved everyone's morale when it came to getting it done.

Neither Aman or Trilah will be able to accompany you on your next outing but they'd be willing to listen in the future if you were taking on any local work. The two of them offer to buy you a drink. One drink, they're very clear on that. Most of the others need to go their separate ways to drop off their earnings.

Did you want to take up their offer for a drink?
>Sure, but good luck finding a mug big enough. Unless you’re gonna buy me a whole barrel.
>That map
>Did you by any chance participate in aspiring emperor quest back in the day?
I meant to answer this. I have not, though I think that was on my list of quests to read at one point.
I used one of those city generator sites to get the outer walls along with scale and a few basics down then used it as a reference.
>Of course we'll take your drink! To new friends and great fortunes.
You don't intend to turn down hospitality.
"Sure, but good luck finding a mug big enough. Unless you’re gonna buy me a whole barrel."
This gets the two of them laughing. The bar they frequent is one of the few that the other giants in town happen hang out in. You'd previously picked up a tankard of ale there but for you it was more of a child size cup.

Entering the bar north of main street the two ranchers head over to see the bartender.
"A bit late in the day for you two, what'll it be?" asks a well groomed dwarf.
"Two ales, and one for the big guy."
Aman jerks his thumb in your direction.

Looking up the bartender realises you're not one of the regulars.
"Oh yes! Flora mentioned there was a new giant in town. Wasn't sure what you drank so I've just been keeping an extra of the old standby. Haven't met a giant yet that doesn't like it. It tastes a bit like ale it's just prepared differently so we can fill a proper giant size mug."

The dwarf jumps down to a lower level behind the bar and bangs on a door.
"Seerah! One of the giants are in early!"
A young lady soon appears and climbs up a ladder to what you belatedly realise is another level with a counter situated at giant height. There are a few spots with cast iron seats that fold down, so you take the one closest to those meant for smaller peoples. Seerah sets a mug on the counter the size of a small keg and begins filling it from a hose she hauls up from beneath.

"This is Ulf," Aman tells the bartender who turns to you.
"Ulf, I'm Dunmer but most call me Drummer. Long story, you'll hear it eventually. Always glad to have another customer a- STONEBELOW there's a Kobold on yer shoulder! You already knew that by the looks of things. Sorry. Not used to that."
Drummer takes a moment to catch his breath, a hand on his chest in an effort to calm down. Once he's doing better he resumes talking, seemingly a mile a minute.
"Again sorry about that, startled me is all. I try to be open to anyone coming through the door that's willing to pay, so long as they don't start trouble. Enjoy your drink, let me know if it's not to your taste or you have any trouble."

Seerah gives your drink a stir with a ladle then gives you a thumbs up. Giving it a try you find the drink to be similar to ale like Drummer said, only a bit sweeter. Has a hint of what seems like dandelion tea.

"It's good!" you tell the others.

Trilah raises his glass. "To a job well done."
You in turn raise yours.
"To new friends and great fortunes."

"Hear hear!" says Aman.
It's nice to actually have a proper drink. That's not a thing you've ever really got to experience before. Siege armies were always being miserly with their rations.

Eventually Trilah strikes up more conversation.
"So Ulf, you said you were new in the area. What is it you're after up here? Aman's already said he's trying to find a path. I'm... glad to be away from the south and a good part of my past. What is it you hope to find?"

What are your personal goals? Money to be sure played a part in coming here. The thought of finding ancient ruins, weapons and armor is definitely on your list of goals now. What else? Fame or fortune, power or leadership over a new city state in the north? What are your dreams?
Stopping here for the night. I'll respond to questions tomorrow but I probably wont be doing any story posts until Thursday.
At last, character development. I can think of anything right now but I just wanna confirm what we know so far:
>We come from the open plains, learning how to shoot for hunting food
>We signed on with the Silver Talons, a mercenary group that is more tolerant towards non-humans and gained some war experience.
Anything else?
A mix of Adventure, looking for a bit of giant related history in ruins.

Make sure we get Jib Jab a drink.
A more permanent place for giants to settle on a permanent basis or semi-permanently during the nomadic life. Somewhere for giant culture to have a centre.
>We come from the open plains, learning how to shoot for hunting food
Yes. Though you also spent some time in the iron hills.

>We signed on with the Silver Talons, a mercenary group that is more tolerant towards non-humans and gained some war experience.
Technically you're an associate member, as was the siege company you were with. You haven't joined the silver talons proper yet. I was meaning to bring this up again before you next left the city.

>Make sure we get Jib Jab a drink.
To sit on the Iron Throne as king.
You get Jib Jab a drink while thinking over an answer to their question.

Giants wander far, see many distant places but rarely stop there. Most only putting down roots long enough to have a few children before moving on. There are exceptions of course, some settling for one reason or another like food, work, friends and allies.

While you hope for some adventure, what you really want is to find a place for those few giants that want to stop for awhile. A place of their own. Maybe there was once such a place in ancient times. If so maybe you can learn of its history from ruins. While giants aren't exactly dwindling in numbers you know they were once more numerous.

If you just happened to end up sitting on the throne of such a place that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

You're still young in the reckoning of most stone kin. Not as long lived as elves but you should have plenty of time in which to accomplish your goals.

>Is this acceptable?
>>Is this acceptable?
Yep sounds good.
Yeah, let’s make a home.
"I can respect that," Trilah says. "A lot of people coming north these days are escaping from problems. Occasionally though we'll get a group that wants to head out on their own, found a new settlement. A few of those hope to turn it into a new kingdom of their own. You'll want to watch your back out there, they may not want the competition."

Aman agrees.
"I imagine some folk would find the idea of a city of giants intimidating. Or see it as a threat. I don't though. Most of you giants that I've met are pretty laid back, and I mean that in a good way. You don't tend to get upset over stupid pointless shit the way humans do."

You thank him for the compliment, though you point out you do get angry when people are trying to trick you. That seems to be fairly consistent among giants. It's probably why Flora is so dead set on keeping an eye out for all of you.

The human shrugs.
"I think that's common among most races."
"Except goblins," Trilah points out. "They get a kick out of pulling a fast one and generally respect it if someone else is quick enough to do the same back."
That could be worth remembering.
Thanking the pair for the drink you wish them luck with whatever job they're taking on next. You need to get a few things ready for the next expedition and there might be time to take care of them today before the shops close.

Antonio looks over the slight damage to your armor and asks to reconfigure some bits before your next outing. He seems confident that they were longbow hits.
"These hits were straight on you can tell. Come back in the morning. If you want I can also sell you some replacement pieces you can switch out in the field if you take any more damage."

That might be handy and would only cost about 20 silver.

Next up is Enidon's shop. You'd been planning to get Jib-Jab a small crossbow but wanted to wait until you had more money on hand. While basic crossbows are surprisingly cheap, the one that is a more ideal size of the kobold is a good bit more complicated. This has driven the price up somewhat.

"500 silver for the hand crossbow, another 50 for the smaller bolts, sheaves and holsters. It should be possible to buy bolts with poison reservoir heads that are compatible with these smaller crossbows. I don't sell them as the guard doesn't particularly care for their existence."

It sounds like you or Jib Jab would have to get on good terms with some of the more shady members of society in order to get those.

Do you want to get Jib-Jab the crossbow at this time?
Might as well, be sure to get some poison arrows, the only way to really do damage with the tiny thing aside from critical hits.
>get replacement pieces
>get crossbow
With the crossbow added to your small companion's arsenal you turn in for the night, ready to get an early start.

First things first, you pick up an extra stack of arrows to bring along. 40 total should be enough. You still have a few spare arrow heads if you need to carve some rough arrows while out in the field.

You meet up with Gegor, Ferith, Cellica and Ocette to discuss plans on the Missing Caravan job. Aeson has apparently sent word that he won't be able to accompany the team leaving you without a mage. Neia and Tim will be a bit late but they are still willing to go along. If you include Jib Jab that's an 8 man party which unfortunately in this case means the money on this job could start to be spread a bit thin if many more were to be added.

Though magic might be useful in an emergency, this is more of a reconnaissance in force than anything. Cellica says she could probably find another mage with the Talons. This is a job that the Talons themselves are offering and keeping it mostly in house might help the pay situation.

After some checking there's only one that's available, a mage by the name of Orlan that specializes in earth magic plus a few other things.

"Ech, please not him." gripes the usually stalwart Gegor.
"Now, I know you two don't get along-" Cellica starts before the Paladin cuts her off.
"He's of demonic heritage, I don't trust him."
"That's not his choice and you know it."
"The young Ferith here has been learning how to dispel magic, that should be good enough."
Gegor claps the cleric on the shoulder.

While he might have a point you really dont know what may have happened to that caravan.

[ ] We don't need a mage, the party is large enough
[ ] Orlan could be useful, Gegor needs to tolerate him
[ ] Try to find another solution (Write in)
>[ ] Orlan could be useful, Gegor needs to tolerate him
I seesawed back and forth quite a bit on that 3rd option whether to put simply: try to find another mage in town.
"Orlan could be useful. If he's with the Silver Talons then he is an ally yes?"

Gegor seems to be attempting to come up with a suitable argument against the mage but eventually simply crosses his arms in frustration.
"I'm not happy about it but you are correct."

Ferith tries to stay positive.
"Look on the bright side. If he's with us you can keep an eye on him. We- we can keep an eye on him."
"Got a point there kid."

With that problem squared away Cellica asks something she's been wondering about.
"Ulf, I think you said that your company in the south was an associate of the Talons. Have you thought about becoming a full member?"

You've thought about it briefly but didn't want to make any waves with the other giants plans to balance their hiring rates.

"I'm asking because those with a high enough standing can see about getting better equipment, or enchantments on equipment. You can then work to pay them off in installments if you want to own them. Until then the company would still own that gear and they'll want it back if you decide to resign.
It's hard to see for all of the feathers but Ocette actually has a light weight enchanted breastplate."
"Ha! You said breast," crows the harpy.
"Very mature young lady."

Magical equipment of one kind or another would certainly be a game changer, but do you really want to tie yourself down to a major mercenary company?
>Would you be interested in signing on with the Silver Talons as a full member at this time?
>>Would you be interested in signing on with the Silver Talons as a full member at this time?
You'll hold off on that for now. So far noting has posed too much of a threat and you don't want to be pinned down by a merc company. There's always plenty of time to sign up later should you change your mind.

Gegor heads off with Ferith to buy a few more supplies while the rest of you wait for the remaining party members to arrive. They promise to meet at the eastern gate. Orlan, when he emerges from the Talons area of the hiring hall, appears like some battle mages you've met. Average to tall for one of the smaller folk he's outfitted much like any other. Leather pouches and mail cover his lower torso hanging from a sturdy looking enchanted chestplate. All of that is topped by robes that seem to have even more pockets.

The mage himself however differs quite a bit. His skin is ashen with streaks and splotches of darker colouration like marble. Eyes are an unnatural cyan colour and a pair of short sharp looking horns poke out of his forehead. Though it's hard to tell with the hood up it looks like he doesn't have any hair.

"I am Ulf," you gesture to your left shoulder, "and this is Jib Jab."
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance," he smoothly replies. "Both of you. I haven't worked with any of the giants before."

"I hope our Paladin won't give you too much trouble," says Cellica, sounding a bit concerned.

"I don't expect we'll have much to argue about Miss Tähti. At least on my end."

When Neia and Tim arrive they both appear prepared for travel. The Centaur is a little surprised by Orlan's presence but shakes it off quickly.
"Sorry we're late. If the rest of you are ready we should head out, we're wasting daylight."

The Paladin and Cleric are waiting at the east gate. Ferith explains that they picked up a few potions just in case since if anything happens to him the rest of you might be a several days travel from another healer. Or at least one that wasn't an orc. Who knows what they might charge if you were able to make contact with a friendly tribe.

As the party gets rolling there is discussion on what you might find. The river crossing is 180 kilometers as the bird flies. A few people live near the crossing, mostly fishers and trappers. Some orcs, some humans but not enough for a proper defensible settlement. According to the Talons one of the other harpies in town were sent out to the crossing and reported back that everything there was fine.

There is some idle gossip among the party until you reach the edges of the city's territory near sundown. Ocette can't see much ahead because of trees overhanging the road but you and Jib Jab notice a figure ahead on foot that you're catching up on. It appears to be an orc wearing little more than a long shirt, shorts and manacles.

Could that be one of the escaped slaves that there was a bounty on? Either way when the orc notices you he runs for the cover of the trees. Did you want to investigate?
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I have to head out so I may not post much more tonight. I've been considering changing the name of the quest and am wondering what all of you would think of this. Considering going with:
A Giant in the Silver Marches

I'm open to others but if I am going to change it then it should be in this thread so I can start archiving it properly.
>Did you want to investigate?
sounds good
Yes. See what gots the little one all flustered.

I like the new name.
Yes investigate. Does our kobald have any tracking skills?
"I know we were going to stop for the night but I get concerned when people flee at our approach. Can anyone track him?"

Though no one is a dedicated ranger Gegor has picked up a few of the basics over the years. Neia likewise knows a thing or two, though she's better at tracking across plains and fields. Jib Jab has not really gained a lot of experience with tracking yet, mainly focusing on spotting while staying hidden. It's something he would like to learn more about.

You, the Paladin and the Centaur charge ahead, trying to get to the point at the road where the orc went off the trail as quickly as possible. Gegor suggests you stick to the road as much as possible, trying to spot what you can between the undergrowth and the tree canopy. There's enough of a breeze that the swaying of the leaves makes it difficult to hear movement through the undergrowth.

The other two split up slightly trying to follow trail signs. Gegor soon calls out that the trail he'd been following has doubled back. You spot Neia giving a burst of speed followed by a shout.
"You there! Stop!"

That's enough of a sign as far as you're concerned. Crashing through the forest you and Gegor soon catch up. Tim has an arrow nocked but isn't aiming at the orc male they've cornered. You note he's rather thin for one of his kind.
"Who are you and why did you run?" Neia demands to know.

The orc looks to each of you in turn.
"You were sent to catch me weren't you?"

"No, we're headed for the river," you answer.

Gegor dismounts and asks to see the manacles he's wearing.
"Hold out your hands, I'm not going to hurt you."

He does as ordered and the Paladin soon grunts after finding a particular marking on the metal bands.
"He's from the ones that reported several escapees alright. Where are the others?"

The orc scowls.
"We scattered. One or two may be caught but some will escape."
This gets a weary sigh from Gegor.
"Let's go setup camp for the night while we figure out what to do with you. As long as you don't try anything we won't tie you up."

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How to deal with the escaped slave is predictably the main topic of discussion around the camp fire. Ferith gets him some food and water after checking for injuries. Neia is the first to voice her opinion.
"We have a mission. There is no point in turning back now."

Tim shakes his head in disagreement, pointing out that legally they're supposed to turn in escaped slaves. He looks to Gegor for support and he reluctantly answers in the affirmative.
"Yes, in the eyes of the law that is what we are supposed to do."

Cellica doesn't seem happy about this.
"I've never liked that the city allowed this sort of thing, no matter how common it is in the south."

Ocette is asleep on a branch and doesn't comment while Jib Jab just shrugs. He's used to the idea of the bigger and stronger ones deciding what to do. That's the way it's been his whole life.

Orlan doesn't look up from practicing his magic on one of the rocks making up the fire pit.
"The law doesn't apply here. We're outside the territory claimed by the city."
"Outside the area protected by the city you mean," Gegor counters.

>What is your input on what to do with the escaped slave?
>>What is your input on what to do with the escaped slave?
leave him
We never saw him. There’s no time for human baggage, let’s carry on.
"Leave him. We came out here to search for a missing caravan, not to collect slaves that will weigh us down. The bounty hunters can do their own job."

"We couldn't take him with us?" wonders Ferith.
Gegor shakes his head.
"No, we don't have enough horses."
"Tim could go with Ulf and then Neia coul-"
"No! Absolutely not!" the centaur objects. "I do not let strangers... I barely tollerate Tim and only because he is a friend."

The cleric looks rather abashed.

You're sure he meant well, as for the orc you suggest he stay off the road. Others that are hunting for him, or even well armed parties of prospectors, might decide it's worth the effort to bring him back.
"What'd you do anyways?"
"I was captured by a band taking prisoners so there would be someone to trade in exchanges with the tribes."

Well for one night at least he has a fire to sit by and some food. Later on when you're on watch you see Orlan break the manacles on the condition he doesn't tell anyone else who removed them. Just before sunrise the orc heads into the woods heading south east.

"We never saw him," you state.
"Saw who?" asks Tim.
"The or- oh. I get it."

It takes two days to reach the river crossing with no further incidents along the way. A small fur trade post is being operated here. The only permanent structure is one with sturdily built walls that could probably take a few of your throwing stone hits. Tents and a few wooden outbuildings surround it but not more than a dozen people are here at present.

Though the river is quite wide here it is rather shallow and calm. You could probably wade across with one of the trappers guessing the water would be up to your chest in places. Long sturdy ropes attached to pulleys are set up to help float a raft across.

Gegor and Cellica ask around for what direction the caravan went after crossing. They seem to think it wen toff north east but nobody who has come back from trapping in that area has run into them.

>Any questions you have for the locals?
>What's the mood of nearby tribes?
>Any unusual behaviours from animals recently?
>Have there been others incidents with caravans previously?
While the others are tying to figure out where the caravan went you decide to ask about other sorts of useful information. Like the mood of the nearby tribes and chances of them giving you much trouble.

You find out that in the mountains east of here there are several tribes of kobolds. They tend to stick to the harsher terrain, dug in so the orcs cant get at them. The orcs and goblins right now are fighting a bit more often than usual after the death of a chief in the winter. Not as bad as up north closer to the plains, but the worst it's been in some time.
They're generally leaving the trappers and traders alone, but a couple have vanished.

"Does that happen often?"
The grey haired man you're talking to shakes his head in dismay.
"We lose a few every year. Some get killed by bears and wolves, handle a river wrong and it can smash you against rocks in the rapids. Plenty of ways to die. Hell I almost died of dysentery drinking from a stream that was no good."

As it's explained to you overall the local tribes are a bit on the combative side right now. Provided your party looks strong a small enough group of orcs should leave you be. Larger ones you're better off making use of the horses to retreat. Or in your case just run.

There isn't much news when it comes to difficulties with the animals. They've been warned to be on the lookout about the rabies outbreak of course but aside from that the only weird stuff is far down river. A few reported seeing giant spiders, but that was nearly 700 kilometers from here.

"No other incidents with caravans disappearing?"
"Well we've had settlers vanish before over the years. Warned them things got less safe across the river but they took us being here as a sign it was too safe on this side. Figured it was only a matter of time until the city annexed these parts.

I heard of one wagon being washed down river about 5 years back. Some tribes captured a few others but a group from the Mantle went and traded for their release. That was when things were a bit more calm. This caravan you're looking for was the largest I've ever seen make the attempt. They may have stood a chance if they were attacked."
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The various clues are discussed before turning in for the night. Searching the east side of the river could take some time but the team is prepared.

In the morning you think you can see the peak of a mountain far to the east. It's hard to make out for certain over the trees and the sunrise may have aided in that somewhat. According to the locals there is a range of five mountains out in that direction running mostly north-south. The southern most one should be roughly 160 kilometers due east. There's supposed to be a fairly wide pass through them between the second and third mountain.

If the caravan departed north east there's a good chance they were headed for the pass. Neia and Gegor would like to spend some time looking for signs of the caravans passage relatively close to the river to confirm this. Before that though you're faced with the actual crossing.

You pile a good portion of your gear that would hang below your waist on the raft and simply wade across. The current isn't bad here and you weigh enough that it cant sweep you away. The others take turns ferrying gear across while the centaur and all but one of the horses simply swim. The remaining one is brought across on the raft, not really seeming to like any method of crossing the river.

"How was I supposed to know my horse didn't like water?" complains Ferith.

There are plenty of signs of the caravan's passing on the other side, at least at first. Branches and shrubs have been hacked away in places to clear a path for the caravan. Into mixed terrain of forest and clearings it soon becomes more difficult to follow what's left of their trail. Too many smaller planets have grown in to fill any gaps they left.

The pass still seems like the best bet. Ocette will be able to spot the remains of firepits on rockier ground. Getting there without stumbling into a band of orcs that think they can take you is the real question.

Did you want to take your time in order to avoid trouble wherever possible, or try to get to the pass as quickly as you can?
move quickly, should make it harder for someone to prepare a spontaneous ambush
Roll 2d100 for enemy avoidance.
Rolled 11, 9 = 20 (2d100)

Now that I've finished laughing I'd better get to work writing this.
Rolled 32, 53 = 85 (2d100)

Might be too late but might as well test our luck!
You urge the rest of the party to try and get to the pass quickly. The less time spent out where orc tribes are fighting the less likely you are to be caught. It will also mean anyone who notices your presence wont have time to race ahead and set up ambushes.

Closer to the river the party makes good time. There are increasing signs each day of marauding orcs and even goblins. Ocette is able to spot a number of smaller groups from far away allowing you to avoid them. That ends on the third day.

As the terrain gets rougher everyone needs to slow down to deal with the difficult terrain. Entering an area of old growth Ocette is unable to spot from high above and descends to lower levels. Flying beneath the canopy she stays near to the group gliding from tree to tree.

Passing through a series of smaller clearings you eventually break through low lying greenery into a larger open space. It's filled with slabs of rock and boulders that may have once stood upright. There isn't any time to check if these are ruins though, you're far to busy taking stock of what else is here.

Two tribes of orcs facing off against each other. Or maybe it's diplomacy? The tribes are mostly hanging back near the north and south sides while a trio from each band meets in the center. Both are rather surprised by the arrival of your group and begin yelling angrily and pointing fingers.

"Is that hobgoblin?" Gegor mutters.
Sure enough the leader of the southern band has the more dusky tanned reddish skin of those from the deep south. Figuring out what they're doing here is not the priority though. Extricating yourself before things get much worse is.

Cellica speaks up loud enough for all of you to hear but hopefully not the orcs. "I's not sure my orcish is good enough to get us out of here. Suggestions?"
>"I'm not sure
Or maybe it sounds more orc with the spelling mistake, I don't know.

I have to head out for dinner. I will be back on in a few hours.
We should try the same tactic late time. Act as an anrgy giant and have our companion shout at them to make way for us.

Diplomacy is not our forte and just leaving or standing still may increase tensions depending on why they are meeting.
"I could act as an angry giant again."
At this suggestion Cellica and Gegor instantly put another couple hand spans of distance between themselves and you. It's like they didn't even move, just suddenly they were farther away.
"We might still need you coherent enough to use your bow Ulf," the half-elf politely suggests.

"Angry giant is after a thief that fled with the caravan?" Tim helpfully offers. "Personally though? Running seems wise to me."
Ferith, though sounding a touch nervous, still seems hopeful.
"This is just an honest mistake. Maybe we can still barter for information?"

"We surrender we not be treated good," is Jib Jab's contribution to the conversation.
Maybe he's just worried he wont be treated as well?

Orlan has another solution; "Tell them we came to pay tribute to one side or the other. Pay a bribe to get out of this mess."
Neia snorts. "We are mercenaries. I will not be leaving with less money than we arrived."

"Backing one side in this could spark a battle," Gegor warns. "A lasting peace between tribes in the area gives us the best chance of finding that caravan. Say the city wants to know what it will take for there to be peace."

Cellica frowns.
"That's not going to be easy to pull off."
"I know."

As the shouting among the orc leaders begins to quiet down into what looks more like cold fury Neia has one more thing to add.
"Sparking a battle might be a good thing. Thinning the orc numbers could be useful in the long run."

[ ] Our angry giant is chasing a thief with the caravan
[ ] R U N
[ ] Barter for information
[ ] Pay tribute to one side
[ ] Offer to back whichever side will pay more
[ ] Give peace a chance
>[ ] R U N
As much as I wanted to Barter for information, the chief that died might have been an orc chief. This might be the summit to decide a new one and if they see us, they might think the other hired us to take the other out.
Going to be leaving this for an overnight vote.
>[ ] R U N
>[ ] R U N
> [ ] R U N
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZAQZ4v91Rc [Flight to the Ford - LotR]

"Whoever wins still outnumbers us by too much. Changed my mind, RUN."

Orlan and Gegor wheel their horses about at nearly the same time, the Paladin dragging Ferith's horse along with him. Cellica begins to protest.
"But what about-"
"GO!" Neia shouts.
At this the others flee while you crash through the trees after them. The harpy has shot skyward to avoid the heavy underbrush that slowed her down before. The rest of you move as fast as possible retracing your steps as fast as the horses will dare. Even before you'd made it back into the woods Orc shouting resumed. This time louder, meant to be heard by the rest of the tribes perhaps.

"Do I want to know what they're yelling?" Orlan shouts over his shoulder.
"Something about a truce," Cellica answers.
"Well isn't that nice for them!"

As the going gets rougher Jib Jab ties himself to your armor, trying to avoid the worst of the branches you're not slowing down to navigate properly. The trail being left behind is one that wont be easy to miss. Continuing to follow the others you begin to tear down the occasional mid sized tree to block the path behind you. It's hard to tell how effective it is but it's not slowing you down enough that you can't catch up with the horses.

Once out of the heaviest sections of forest Ocette rejoins the party. Landing on a few trees ahead she does what she can to make a path for all of you while delaying pursuers. It's not long before she squawks in surprise, taking wing again.
"Their druids are keeping me from slowing them down!"

"How many?" you ask.
"A lot!"
"How much is a lot?" questions Tim. "Twenty? Fifty?"
Okay that's a lot.

"We need to get to open ground. Use the horses to outrun them," shouts the Paladin.

Roll 2d100
Rolled 53, 10 = 63 (2d100)

Long sexy legs, don’t fail us now
Rolled 37 (1d100)

Rolled 44 (1d100)

and the second roll...
Ocette continues to do what she can to clear a path for the horses. If necessary you're prepared to take up the lead and punch a hole through the brush yourself. Hopefully that won't be necessary.

A stone the size of something you would throw comes crashing down two dozen yards away. Though it's nowhere near landing on you it does momentarily startle the horses.
"What was that?!" asks Ferith.
"You don't want to know," is your answer.

Because you do know. It can only mean one of two or three things and any of them are bad. If you're lucky, really lucky, it's just another golem like the ones you fought a few days ago. If you're right though -and you hope you're not- it's another giant, or worse an ogre.

Rocks begin to rain down at regular intervals. None of them are close but the continued barrage can't be good for the others morale. Gegor continues to urge the others on, the more experienced warrior knowing that stopping at this point means death or capture. Neia takes up the lead, doing what she can to find the best terrain for the horses to follow.

"How are we doing?" the Paladin calls back to those of you watching the rear.
Ocette seems to think the party can outrun them eventually at the current pace. The fall of rocks is certainly becoming more inaccurate by the minute. You can hear other noises though. Glancing over your shoulder you spot a number of enemies closing. Goblins riding... wolves? Dire Wolves?

"Goblin riders!" you warn.

Orlan slows, waving most of the others past him then picks up his pace once he's nearer to you.
"It's going to take me longer to cast while riding like this. Giant, Ulf, could you discourage them while I'm between spells?"

That you can do. The question now is, bow or stone? Stones may limit your rate of fire as you only carry three and will have to scavenge for more along the way. Arrows will be harder to replenish long term but you have more of them immediately at hand.

[ ] Bow, Rapid Fire
[ ] Rock Barrage
[ ] Special: Large tear gas canister
Roll 1d20
Rolled 9 (1d20)

[ ] Bow, Rapid Fire
We need fast projectiles to hit these things.
Rolled 51, 3 = 54 (2d100)

It's best of three, yeah?
Rolled 2 (1d20)

[x] Special: Large tear gas canister

They'll probably think they were poisoned.
>It's best of three, yeah?
For certain things. All of you are certainly fast enough for best of 3 to apply on the d100s in this case.
>Rolled 51, 3
For all the good that's going to do you with rolls like this.

It is fortunately also best of 3 on archery or stone throwing.
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>[ ] Special: Large tear gas canister
It's a good thing you brought plenty of arrows along because you're going to need plenty of them today. Shooting while on the run is a skill that you rarely have cause to practice. Certainly not while running away from enemies. Despite any misgivings you begin putting down a hail or arrows.

Wolves duck and dodge to avoid the large bolts, some backing off or whimpering after near misses. The others just seem to get angrier, spreading out to make it more difficult for you to hit them.

Some of the closer goblins begin firing arrows at you, missing at first but gaining in accuracy. Jib Jab warns of some using wands just before blue stinging projectiles begin to impact. You can shrug them off for now, they're too small to do any real damage but it they get hits on the mage it could disrupt him.

Jib Jab fires off a pair of shots with his new hand crossbow, missing the first one but managing to hit a wolf fairly solidly with the second.

Orlan calls out a warning to move fast then unleashes a spell. A barrier of earth, mud and stone shoots up out of the ground just behind you, extending out to the sides by dozens of feet. A few impacts are heard as wolves and riders slam into the wall at speed.

Only a short moment later magic of one kind or another slices into the wall, cutting a hole wide enough for two of the wolves to pass through side by side. What the grinning lead goblin failed to account for was that they were now giving you a tight grouping of targets.

One arrow blows clear through one of the wand users, throwing them from their mount. Another hits a wolf through the head sending its rider flying into a tree. Others scatter in momentary panic, continuing to shoot. Peeking through the hole in the wall one green skin sends of bolt of lightning your way. Turning, you catch it in your off hand. As confirmation of the testing back in the city the magical impact feels little worse than splashing your hand in a stream.

Not waiting to see if this confuses your opponent you continue running. More riders are rounding the edges of the barrier and you send more arrows in their direction. Orlan fires the occasional beam of purple energy from his staff to help.

Catching up to the others at a stream Ocette once again tries to slow down your pursuers with the local plant life. This time you're far enough away from the hostile druids that she has some success. Orlan continues to use earth magic to help, launching blocks of stone or raising more temporary barriers.

After downing two more wolves with your bow the pursuers begin to back off more. They haven't given up though, and every attempt by Ocette to check on their progress gives away your position. It isn't until the party reaches increasingly open terrain to the west and really puts on the speed that they're left behind.

Neia directs everyone into the next stream, following it down river to keep the wolves from following you. It's into dusk when the party stops for the night. The horses are worn out and you're in need of sleep yourself. Ocette and Orlan do what they can to make a sheltered position for the night, looking to those outside like an overgrown outcropping of rock.

Everyone agrees that a camp fire can't be risked. The better question now is, how long can you afford to stay in place? Can you wait for morning, or is it better to move once the horses are rested enough to continue on foot?

"I can't be sure but we should have covered at least 60 kilometers," Gegor estimates.
That should put you a good piece east of the river still but not too far. You'll have to swing north to get at the pass while avoiding those two tribes. When to move is the question.

[ ] Rest until the horses can walk, leave while it's still dark
[ ] Wait until sunrise
[ ] Take a day and rest the horses
I've been called into work so I probably only have time for one more story post today.
>[ ] Wait until sunrise
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Everyone rests up until sunrise with Ocette standing watch through most of the second half of night. Jib Jab also does some patrolling. He spent a good portion of the escape firing from your backpack so the wolves wont have his scent. They'll think he's just another kobold in the area you hope.

Leaving the constructed hiding place it doesn't look like they've followed you. At least not this far. The tribes may have decided to call off the pursuit once you got far enough away. Heading north at a fairly slow pace most of the day is spent being careful and allowing the horses to recover a bit more.

Your arrow stock has been depleted a bit but there's more left than what you entered the north with. It should be enough. Just in case though a couple of spare rough arrows are carved at the end of each night when stopping to rest.

Once the party is back to being itself again it takes two more days to skirt north and reach the pass. Despite the risk of being spotted Cellica feels you've traveled far enough away for Ocette to take to the skies again.

It takes hours but she eventually finds remains of a few camps and fire pits. Some are the result of orcs but at one Jib Jab turns up a few matchsticks. These definitely weren't from the locals. Other signs are turned up as well. Disturbed rock from prospecting, felled trees, sawdust and a few metal scraps here and there.

"I think they lost an axle off a wagon and had to cut a new one."

Despite scouring the area continued searches finds no sign that they used the pass. Gegor turns up additional wheel ruts that turn southward but it's impossible to be sure if they're the incoming or outgoing tracks. When Neia finds there was an excess of snow melt in the area until recently she comes to an undesirable conclusion.

"I believe they turned south. They may not have been able to get through this pass more than two months ago."

Following the southern set of tracks that seem to skirt the mountains south will almost certainly lead you back into the territory of the two orc tribes. The only safe solutions would seem to be circling west back to the river and then south, or cutting through the pass and around the mountains.

Provided neither of the tribes have captured the caravan that is.

Which way will you go? Through the pass, back to the river, trying to covertly follow the southern trail, or will you attempt something different?
>Through the pass
>Through the pass
"The path behind us is filled with angry orcs or worse. We go through the pass and head south from there."
There are no real objections. If you're not willing to face whatever might be worse then they're in no hurry to either.

The pass itself is quite rough in places. A caravan could get through but they would need a guide who was very familiar with the area or risk damage to the wagons. As seen from the signs of wagon repair they must have given up on that plan. Were they even aware of the local tribes infighting at the time, or were the orcs still busy replenishing their supplies after winter?

From the pass all of you can get a good view of the lands to the east. Another distant group of mountains is off the north west with higher ground to the north. First forest then plains cover much of the land between the mountains and the next river. The same river according to the others. Or part of the same drainage basin.

The rivers here flow south into a series of interconnected lakes. Those in turn drain into what the dwarves have eloquently labeled the east river on your map. Surely there must be another name? You hadn't thought to ask the trappers at the crossing. This gets a few laughs from the rest of the party.

Tim is the first to speak up.
"You must have picked up that map at the gate or on the trade road. The branch of the river west of Silver Mantle is called the Birchhead. The one to the east the Blood Willow because sometimes the river goes red."

"Why would it go red?"
"Folktale is that the orcs and druids slit the throats of hundreds or thousands of enemies or captives as part of a ritual every few years. It releases their spirits to stalk the lands and lay curses on those that would disrespect the old forests."

"Hey, that's not true!" Ocette protests.

"I also heard from one of the stone druids that they think it's from red clay getting washed down into the river."
Ferith is a little disappointed to hear this finding the folktale to be much spookier.

The next time the party stops for the night Tim approaches you.
"I wanted to ask, did you think it was a giant or an ogre that was after us during the escape?"

Giant or ogre, it should be a simple question but which answer feels right?
On again in the morning. If work tries to call me in screw em. That shift was not fun.

Always assume the worst. Also what kind of giant misses such easy targets!
Ogre. It had to be an ogre, you can feel it in your bones. The brutes tend to have more fat to ward off blows than a giant. Though they might be a bit shorter, its debatable which is stronger. Odds are good one could take you in a fight if they could get into melee range. Then again it's the same for any giant that gets in close, you're an archer not a swordsman.

"Besides, what giant could miss so badly when they have druids to spot their fall of shot? That sort of thing may be my specialty but that was amaturish to be sure."

"Just a bit of professional pride there?" Tim asks, clearly amused by this.
"A bit yes."

You make good time heading south through the plains towards the lakes of the upper Blood Willow river. From there the party can watch for trappers and smaller bands that might be willing to talk and trade for information. If they came this far east someone will have seen them.

What locals should you attempt talks with? Or would you rather spend a few days searching for clues on your own?
>Select all that apply
[ ] Trappers
[ ] Fur Traders
[ ] Smaller orc bands
[ ] Smaller tribes
[ ] Slightly larger tribes the traders say are safe
[ ] Kobolds?
[ ] All of the above
[ ] Avoid contact, search for clues
>[ ] Trappers
>[ ] Fur Traders
>[ ] Smaller tribes
>[ ] Kobolds?
The Trappers and Fur Traders should be easy to find. All that's needed is to get near the larger river and have Ocette watch from high enough up for awhile. Safely approaching smaller tribes and finding Kobolds will be more difficult. There are ways to do this of course, it will just require some skill.

Roll 2d100 for the later 2 options.
Rolled 63, 65 = 128 (2d100)

Rolled 3, 60 = 63 (2d100)

Rolled 88, 57 = 145 (2d100)

Jib Jab may not be a ranger but he knows more or less what to look for to find his people. His own tribe may live near swampier terrain 500 kilometers farther south, but there are usually some commonalities. He splits of with Tim for the better part of a day while the rest of you are hunting. The archer has a few special arrows that can be used as signals if they need help.

When the two smaller party members get back to camp they report some success. They made contact with some local kobolds and were able to barter for information. To their knowledge a caravan hasn't been to this side of the mountains. That includes the area on this side of the river from Great Willow Lake over to Bow Lake.

"That certainly narrows things down," comments Neia.
Gegor agrees. "I doubt they'll be found east of the upper river."

Tim searches through his pack for a number of maps eventually finding one of Willow Lake. There are a few tiny ink marks here and there that almost look like they were accidental.
"If these are marked right there are a couple of tribes near the lake that are small enough we can approach safely. They're among a bunch I have marked as willing to do business with fur traders."

Nia points to a few other spots here and there.
"What are those marked in red?"
"Ones rumored to drink from the skulls of their enemies, but I haven't updated those ones in awhile."
That's reassuring.

Heading south for the lake takes another two days. There aren't any trappers along the way but a few smaller warbands or raiding parties are spotted and avoided. Approaching one of the smaller lakeside tribes known to do trade goes well. Cellica convinces them you're not here to start trouble, only to trade for information and get rid of some pelts picked up during hunting along the way.

A few humans and ice elves are present at the camp, most dressed as traders. At least one heavily tattooed man is working a forge alongside several orcs. There are quite a few curious looks from the locals at the sight of a giant but none are concerned enough to stop whatever they're working on.

"This is convenient," is Ferith's assessment. "There are a lot of people we can ask here."
Indeed, the traders and other locals know quite a bit about movements of tribes, trade and most anything else in the area. They're concerned with the larger tribes fighting to the west and figure it's only a matter of time until they're dragged into the mess. They may be forced into paying tribute to whichever warband from either side happens by.

"What is causing the fighting?" you ask one of the orc traders.
"A chief died in the winter. His replacement's a sodding idiot so their treaties fell apart and tributaries are breaking off. Only a matter of time until their enemies join forces against them I say."

According to those present the caravan is known to have passed through the territory of the Rager Bears heading south. Though they left in peace something happened while they were there and after, making the new chief look rather weak. His seems to have picked up a preference for southerner arms and clothing among other things. Though an unmatched warrior, he's managed to increasingly alienate his allies with poorly thought through decisions.

"Where is the caravan now?"
"They crossed down river of the lake, heading south east."
That's a lot of area to cover.

A newly arrived trapper asks what's going on and when he finds out what you're looking for seems quite pleased.
"I saw them up the Cold Beck. 20 silver and I'll mark where it is on a map. You pay me 3 pieces of gold and I'll take you there and find them."

"That's 480 silver yes?" Orlan questions.
"No, gold. Nobody ever finds gold out here, it's like the land's devoid of the stuff."

You're the only one in the party with gold on you and you're doubtful this job is going to pay anywhere near that.

[ ] 20 silver
[ ] 3 Gold? Really?
[ ] Counter offer: 1 gold if its that rare
[ ] Counter offer: (write in)
>[ ] 20 silver
>Ask what makes leading the group there so expensive
File: grizzly-bear-roaring.jpg (39 KB, 600x398)
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"What makes leading our group there so expensive?"
"Marking it on your map can be done in the span of a few breaths. Going out there, tracking them over land, away from the streams and rivers that make for a quick getaway from Grizzly bears? That's dangerous."

Hold on, what's a Grizzly bear?

"Big brown bear! Some of them can be up to a giant's chest when they stand up. Far more likely to attack people than black bears."

You've dealt with black bears, shooting one on the trip from the gate to Silver Mantle. One of your cousins in the Iron Hills also had one as a pet. Considering your arrows they should be enough to take down even a larger bear right?

"How do they taste?"
"Grizzly? Some taste god awful, others better than black bear. Don't know why though. Diet maybe?"
"I'm not giving up any of my gold," you state.

Everyone chips in a few silver to pay the 20 for the location on the map. Tim estimates it to be 120 kilometers from here to where they were sighted. After that you'll have to pick up the trail yourselves and follow it.

Hearing that you're headed that way a number of the fur traders offer what they claim are good prices for any brown bear pelts you bring back. You might be farther ahead bringing a few back to Silver Mantle and selling them there for a better price.

With the locals permission the party agrees to stay here for the night then find a crossing up river in the morning. Each of you busies yourselves, maintaining weapons or helping out in return for food or drink. Ferith seems to be working the hardest, curing one local of a sickness the shaman couldn't identify. After this he looks into the local water supply.

A few of the hunters and trappers challenge you and Tim to an archery competition. The Halfling might not have your range but two of his three shots hit inside the center ring of the target being used. Two hunters and one trapper each manage to land an arrow inside the ring but with a few other shots not quite as well placed.

Roll 3d20
Rolled 7, 6, 3 = 16 (3d20)

Rolled 16, 4, 8 = 28 (3d20)

"Move the target farther back," you insist. You'd simply stand farther back but then you'd be in danger of having arrows flying past doorways people could walk out of. That would be downright unsafe.

Your first shot is inside the ring, though not as close to the center as you'd like.
"Maybe farther back?"

At an even longer distance you're actually having trouble seeing the target with just the little light from the camp fires. Your next shot hits, if barely, but manages to damage the target enough that it falls apart.

"Do you want a bigger target? We should have enough spares."
"No thank you."
You try again, hitting the target outside the ring but still on the center line. That would be enough to down nearly any opponent. You'll have to give more thought to acquiring a night vision amulet like the Ranger Tara has.

As everyone begins to turn in for the night a young orc woman who appears to be an apprentice shamen approaches Ferith. You don't hear what they're saying but the young Cleric's face very quickly goes beet red. Seeing this Gegor sighs tiredly.
"Guess I better go bail him out. Won't be good to have a worn out Cleric on the road."

On the one hand he may have a point. On the other the young man could probably benefit from a bit of experience in worldly matters. Will you ask Gegor to leave him be, or let him carry on with chaperone duties?
Ask Gegor to leave him be, Why not? Ferith is a young man old enough to make his own decisions.
Have him tell both of them to make sure Ferith isn't exhausted tomorrow.
Deciding to play the part of the Giant wingman you ask Gegor to hold a moment. Ferith may be young but he should be old enough now to make his own decisions shouldn't he?
"You... are not entirely wrong Ulf," the human admits.

"So he is old enough? I have difficulty telling the age of smaller folk youths at times. If he is though does it matter as long as he can perform his duties tomorrow?"

Gegor considers your words then calls over to the two young people.
"Do as you will tonight, but I expect you to be up at dawn."

You covertly (for you at any rate) give them a thumbs up and go to take the first watch. This may be a friendly settlement, but as the locals said this place could be under threat from warring tribes.

The next morning Ferith looks a little bit tired but doesn't complain as you get underway. He is a bit more quiet than usual for much of the first day but other than that seems fine. Terrain near the lakes can be a bit rocky in places and it takes close to four days just to get far enough up the Cold Beck to approach the search area.

The trapper was not playing up the threat of bears. Even with your bow it can take more than one solid hit to down them if the angle is bad. Dealing with them could slow down search efforts.

Roll 2d100 for trail search and bear encounters.
Rolled 45, 12 = 57 (2d100)

It takes three full days and plenty of backtracking to locate the trail of the caravan. Whoever was in charge of scouting and route planning must have learned quite a bit from their experiences farther north. Routes are cut through areas that require as little preparation as possible, or alternatively where temporary bridges can be quickly setup and torn down to take with them.

"This is the work of professional army sappers," you tell the others. "If not then they're being underutilized."
"Could be retired veterans," Gegor suggests, dismounting to take a look at a ravine blocking the path.

Orlan agrees that seems likely as he readies his spell book.
"Shall I use earth magic to span this gap?"

Cellica shakes her head.
"Let's just go around, there's only a few small thickets to get through going the long way. Save your magic for the next bear we have to fight."

Most of you are getting rather tired of fighting bears. There's a half dozen arrow heads that are going to need repairs from the next smith you encounter. It feels as though every time you get into dense woodlands you're about to encounter trouble.

Cellica pulls up short after rounding the next set of trees.
The now very familiar roar of a grizzly is heard from nearby.

[ ] "By the stone this better be the last time we run away today."
[ ] "Ocette, you're a druid, do something!"
[ ] The list of threatened species is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Alternative solutions also welcome.
>[ ] "Ocette, you're a druid, do something!"
>[ ] "Ocette, you're a druid, do something!"
"Ocette, you're a druid, do something!"


[Hello Mrs Bear]
[I am unhappy with your presence.]
[We took a wrong turn and-]
[We? All of you back away immediately.]
[my friends and I are-]
[we're making haste to leave the area and won't be bothering you.]
[Why are you still hovering there feathered thing. Go.]
[Okay I'm leaving! Goodbye little ones!]
[Don't Talk To Me Or My Sons Ever Again.]

A minute later Ocette catches up with the rest of you.
"That lady really doesn't like people very much. This is why I usually just talk to plants."

Cellica is certainly grateful.
"Thanks for doing that Ocette. I didn't want to leave those bear cubs without a mother."

Circling around the party eventually catches up to the trail again. Orlan has decided that if similar barriers slow your progress he's just going to magic the problem away, damn the consequences.

Jib Jab looks over at Orlan.
"Word mean same thing if demon say damn?"
"Just a figure of speech, don't take it as anything different. I get enough shit from the paladins just for existing."

You've been considering asking about his history much as with the other party members in your previous trips. The mage however doesn't seem inclined to share and you've been reluctant to push it.

Entering a valley where the soil and rock doesn't seem to be as harsh, the trail turns to follow a stream large enough to be considered a small river in some respects. If the high water marks in a few areas are an indicator it would have been an actual river a few months ago.

Then at last you see it, a wooden palisade. It's the wrong shape to be one of the orc hill forts you saw closer to the city. Gegor agrees.
"That's no Oppidum, that's southerner fort."

As the party gets closer you can hear a few small bells being rung. Soon enough you spot figures on the fort walls. Most you can see are humans, only one or two with proper metal helmets. If this place wasn't founded by the missing caravan then either you missed a road or two when you entered the marches, or this is a hideaway for people who came up the river.

As you get closer the bells cease and a man who sounds more ancient than he looks calls out to you.
"What do you want giant? We have nothing worth taking, and the only thing we're willing to give you are the points of our swords and spears!"
A few other men shout in agreement, many of them shaking weapons in the air. If these are the missing ones their morale seems to be holding out.

"Hey that's a Paladin!"
One of the previously cheering men points to the rest of your companions as they come into view. This seems to get things to quiet down as they realise you're probably not hostile. Gegor soon identifies himself and Ferith as members of the Silver Order.

"Not to say we don't appreciate your presence Paladin, but what are you doing all the way out here?"
"Relatives of some that joined your caravan were worried the lot of you had disappeared. Sent us to find out what happened to you."

The old man shakes his head at this.
"I'm sorry those fools back in the city likely put your group in such danger. The orcs have something of a war on, or so we've heard. Come in, rest yourselves after the long journey, I'm sure nearly all in the village of Hithe will welcome you. Open the gates!"
Once the gates are opened a number of the locals take time to greet all of you then head back out to whatever they were working on. Some were busy with tilling and planting, others clearing trees or cleaning logs to be brought in.

The old man and two of the armed men soon arrive to greet you, bowing slightly in greeting.
"Kaiden Wallis, Imperial Army, retired. These two are my cousin's sons, she undoubtedly paid to have you look for us. Their mother was always so worried about them. I don't know how you lads made it through four years in the army with her worrying after you so."
"Uncle, please," the older of the two mutters through clenched teeth.
"A few of the others are veterans who came north. Enough to defend the caravan while trekking through the wilds."

Gegor introduces each of you in turn. The older man grimaces at the sight of Jib Jab, as well as some of the others you think. He quickly tries to cover it up though.

"Most of you are with the Talons then? That makes sense, my cousin is a shareholder you see. She saw it as a very sensible investment. I had my own ideas of course. This is an ideal place for our community. We have good earth, water, and our prospectors found enough tin and copper nearby for us to produce bronze for trade.
You all undoubtedly have questions. Ask away."
Stopping here.

>Schedule this week
I'll only be posting intermittently Monday and Tueday.
Won't be running Wednesday as we're going to attempt a ski trip.
I'm hoping to run Thursday through Sunday.
Thank you as always for running. This is a pretty fun quest.
Ask the basics I guess.

Any Jobs we could take?
Have they seen any giants around?
Could they help update our maps with the newly fractured orcs?
Any supplies they spefically need? Giant power is great at making trade routes!
Any idea what those orcs are fighting over? Also what are their war zones, we need to avoid those areas.
That was a good read, just got caught up.
This is a dangerous neighbourhood, how are you handling it?
Why hasn't anyone sent word back yet about this new village proper?
>Why hasn't anyone sent word back yet about this new village proper?
"Because we're still building it. We have a few permanent structures up or at least started, but the walls were our first priority given what's outside. Orcs, wildlife, you name it. It took steady work nearly around the clock to get it done.
We've been far too busy and none of the trappers from farther down river have run into us since establishing ourselves. Later in the year we expect to get some canoes made up, then we'll send a party to Willow Lake to contact some of the trade posts."

He's not joking about the place being under construction. Inside the walls many people are still living in tents. Most structures inside are attached to the outer walls to cut down on the amount of material used. This place wouldn't survive a siege, but it could repel a smaller raid.

While this fort is not much it is a starting point. They've already drawn up plans for a mill pond and reservoir. A basic smithy is set up repairing tools and axes. Hunters and foragers are bringing in game, wild berries and other plants from the area. Their first winter will undoubtedly be hard but they're on track to be ready for it.

>This is a dangerous neighbourhood, how are you handling it?
"It helps there are fewer orc tribes near here. Most stay closer to the lakes as even they don't want to tangle with those bears on a regular basis. Apparently some of the tribes send out ceremonial hunts with their young people to kill a brown bear as a group. Too dangerous otherwise.
We've made similar rules. Never tangle with them in groups smaller than six. Ten is better, though outright avoidance is preferable. Everyone going outside is strongly encouraged to do any kind of work in groups, more because of wolves than bears."

"Tell them of the shadows uncle."
Kaiden frowns in the young man's direction.
"A few of our people feel there are other reasons the orcs mostly stay farther north or west of here. We heard tell of mysterious goings on in these valleys and the next few south. People standing watch from the walls at night have seen movement outside near the stream or in the trees. So far there have been no incidents of attacks at night except one bear that come sniffing around that we scared off."
>Any jobs for enterprising mercs?
Might be worth taking a look into the shadowy figures while we get some reset and supplies.
After hearing about these shadows none of the party are in any hurry to spend the night outside the walls. Keeping an eye out along with the town watch might be a good idea.

>Could they help update our maps with the newly fractured orcs?
>Any idea what those orcs are fighting over? Also what are their war zones, we need to avoid those areas.
Kaiden Wallis and his people learned a great deal on their trek through the wilderness.

The orc tribes east of the main stretch of the Blood Willow river make up the extended Black Bear Clans. In theory their overall leader is the chief of the powerful Bear-skull Tribe. Back during the last war against the city the Black Bear Clans refused to participate. As a result they retained their strength and were able to conquer three tribes to the north and turn them into vassals.

Some of these tribes and others have been looking for an excuse to overthrow their overlord for some time now. From your descriptions the two you encountered were the Rock Crusher Tribe and the Blue Tempest if the translation is correct. Both have been trying to develop new strengths and tactics for several years now.

"Have your people seen any giants around when passing through the orc lands?"

"No but Urag, that's the Bear-skull chief, felt certain the Rock Crushers had brought in ogres from farther north. Since he came to power he's been focused on modernizing his tribes military, metal working and mining. Really he seems interested in just about anything from the south.
Clearly he wants to build his tribe up into a proper kingdom. I doubt it'll happen but it should be interesting."

"Why do you feel their chief won't be successful?" asks Neia.

The older man sits down on a nearby block of wood before continuing.
"He's angering the traditionalists and a good part of his warriors in the process. Weakening his own position when he should be putting down upstarts. He comes across as a bit of a dandy despite being strong enough to knock most men cold in a single blow."

Kaiden raises a hand to forestall any comment by his kinfolk.
"Now don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciated being able to conduct enough trade on the way through to be guaranteed safe passage through their territory. Clothing especially. That also probably pissed off their warriors.
He asked me a great deal of questions about military tactics and formations used by the army in the south. For all the good it will do him, that stuff takes years to master and he doesn't even have a good starting point."
Cellica mentions that the "Blue Tempest" tribe was being led by a hobgoblin. Or at least they were present at the meeting between the two tribes.

"That's bad news, they're cunning bastards. If he can win over any of Urag's embittered warriors he stands a chance at actually assembling them into an organized fighting force. We don't have anything here valuable enough to pay you to kill him, but at least warn the city. I'll give you a letter to deliver to my sister."

Gegor is more than a bit concerned with the direction this is heading.
"Let's slow down here. Wouldn't killing an orc chieftain spark a war with the city? That's bound to incite more than a few tribes we're on good terms with."

Cellica agrees.
"At the very least it would force us to ally with the Bear-skulls in the short term."

Kaiden shrugs.
"I supposed as long as it doesn't affect our settlement I ultimately don't care. We're outside the reach of the reach of the Black Bear Clans internal dispute here. I fought enough hobgoblins in the south that my natural response to hearing about them is to kill them dead as soon as possible.
My sister is better in tune with the socio-political situation between the city and the orcs, she can decide how best to handle the situation. Don't go losing my letter to her and I'm sure she'll provide you a bonus."
When there's time you ask if there are any paying jobs that need doing. To your disappointment the settlers don't have much in the way of currency at the moment. They expect it will be some time until their mining operation is far enough along to start making bronze. That is expected to be their primary trade good.

When it comes to moving trade goods through this rough terrain giants might be able to backpack in items much more quickly. It's certainly the sort of thing those in the city might take an interest in if it pays well enough. Kaiden directs you to the town logistics clerk who will be setting up a general store once they have an actual economy.

The settlers brought a lot with them but more will be needed, much of it fairly mundane things. Everything from salt and spices to tools and magical implements. They wont be able to afford it all at once but expect to gradually work though acquiring what is needed to expand their village.

While you could make money doing this type of trade it's going to be far more gradual than earning pay as a sellsword. There's also the risk of merchants trying to pull a fast one on you.
File: Black_Bear_Tribes.png (202 KB, 718x1264)
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202 KB PNG
There was supposed to be a picture with this.
I'd say we accept the work, however, in lieu of payment, they give us a land grant and 1% of any future profits they make once the town forms proper from taxes.
>My sister
"Cousin" is what I meant to put there.

Kaiden laughs at this suggestion.
"I and most of those who agreed to come with me did so to get away from the taxes of the city and the south. So I'll offer you this; you can either help out with what needs to be done before sundown, or you can not. There's warm food on the table at the end of the day for everyone who pulls their weight. Right now that's the best we can do.
If your band figures out that shadow situation though I'll make sure my cousin takes an interest."

Roll 2d100 for night watch.
I'll be resuming in the morning sometime after 8AM board time.
Rolled 25, 77 = 102 (2d100)

Rolled 4, 56 = 60 (2d100)


Most of the party does what they can to help out with odd jobs before sunset. Gegor mostly discusses defensive planning with Kaiden, giving insight on preferred tactics used by most orc tribes in raids. Cellica talks to a few of the women and goes to help them with what you don't know. Ferith does his usual thing, checking on people's health and making sure the water is free of parasites and safe to drink.

Orlan is busy doing things with his magic so he doesn't really help out. Neither does Ocette who finds a nice place to perch herself and promptly goes to sleep. She'll likely be spending much of the night awake so this isn't a big surprise.

Neia and Tim patrol the woods looking for any signs of what the locals had mentioned but there are too many tracks. The settlers have been spending a lot of time sizing up trees for construction or simply to clear land to grow crops.

Do you help out with enough of the logging or other work to earn a prepared meal?
Logging is a good idea, that is a giant sized task after all.
Help with logging
Logging seems reasonable, but maybe offer to do other heavy duty labour where our size and strength help like digging or gathering/moving boulders/rocks for building.
Helping out with logging or moving heavy items is light work for you, speeding things up immensely for the settlers. While most remain distrustful of you, they do seem to be rather appreciative of your efforts. Before sundown a few bells are rung to call everyone into the fort for dinner.

Normally you're not one for rating food beyond edible and not, but this is actually the best tasting venison you've ever had. However they did it the cooks that came along with the settlers are certainly good at their job.

At sunset everyone is called inside, bringing tools and anything else of value with them. After a head count the gates are closed and barred. Jib Jab is posted at the north east corner to watch that side while the harpy watches the other. Orlan has readied spells so he can see in the dark too. He'll relieve each of them in turn so they can still get some rest.

The locals have been trying to stay away from Orlan and Jib Jab, while Cellica and Neia are being treated more as a novelty. There must not be many centaurs or harpies where they're from. The situation with the kobold though is enough of an issue that one of the watch protests Jib Jab being on the walls at all.

"What is it with so many people in the marches hating kobolds?!"

Mister Wallis is quick to arrive to diffuse the situation.
"Dane, drop it for now. All Kobolds can see in the dark. If they can figure out what the issue is that you and my nephews have been complaining about, so much the better."

The old man turns to you.
"To answer your question, the majority of our people are devout followers of the Dawnbreaker. The Order of the Dawn Breaker, sometimes called the "Golden Order" of Paladins, has a great deal of influence within the Imperial Army. Because of this many are strong believers of the ancient alliance. Races other than humans, elves and halflings are often viewed with suspicion. Other religions are usually seen as something worse."

"Doesn't being surrounded by orcs make things rather difficult for you? Also how does that work for giants and dwarves?"

"In theory? Those of a stronger belief don't care for either of your kind, but most see giants and dwarves as not being too far removed from humans and halflings in terms of shape. Kobolds are seen as something alien, they're not even shaped the same. More like wingless dragons or crocodiles whose growth was stunted. Given their appearance alone is it really so surprising that people would be suspicious of them?
As for the orcs, well, I feel that I've said enough already. We're fairly well removed from everyone out here."
"The Golden Order are zealots," says Gegor as he walks over. "The Silver Order are considered by many to be moderates by comparison."

Kaiden turns to the Paladin, regarding him warily.
"Among the general populace perhaps, but an increasing number in the army see your kind as heretics, or at least guilty of heterodoxy. I don't agree, but I do see their point. There has been more than one war between the two Orders over the centuries."

Whatever their religious beliefs you hope the settlers can distinguish between friend and foe.
"I'm making certain our people can. That's why I came over here as soon as I heard Dane giving you and your friend a hard time."

>Any questions about the Paladin orders?
Why are there two major orders? Was it one that split at some point? What were the resons for the war?
The Dawnbreaker is among the last of the gods that aided the races of humans, elves and halflings against the Titans. Most of the other gods are believed to have died out or merged with the Dawnbreaker in whatever cataclysm followed the end of the war. There are a few exceptions of course.
Luthien the god of luck is held as the patron diety of many rogues and bards. There are also a trio of gods many dwarves began to follow when they defected from the side of the Titans. Gods of the forge, the hearth and secrets. Despite this many followers of the stone persist in dwarven society.

A widely held belief is that the sun is the Dawnbreaker's physical manifestation. When there were many gods the sky was less bright, but each of their stars shone down on the world with the brightness of moonlight. As they joined together to survive, their combined light became brighter, at last burning away the darkness that had engulfed the world after the supposed demise of the Titans.

The Silver Order holds that the sun and moon are each manifestations of their god's different aspects. Just what those aspects are is a frequent matter of debate, but because of this their followers tend to be more open to such discussions and dissenting views. This concept of duality is seen as heterodox by members of the Golden Order. They hold that the moon is the graveyard of the dead gods who failed, nothing more.

Both orders were formed in the dark ages some time after the war between the Titans and the Gods. Demons began to appear around this time and would attack scattered settlements. Descendants of great heroes from the war were among the first paladins, using ancient arms and armor that had survived. Thanks in part to their efforts civilization began to recover.

The two main orders largely ignored each other but eventually came to blows over their split in beliefs. Leaders of various nations hoped to form a more united front against threats such as demons. Several Kings at the time felt that the Golden Order was easier to control, so they tried to force the two groups into merging. Things didn't work out for a number of reasons resulting in a couple of holy wars among the lands of what is now considered the Empire.

That was admittedly a long time ago and the two groups have had something of a truce for coming up on two centuries now.

"Thanks for the explanation."

Once Kaiden has left Gegor gets your attention.
"Ulf? For the record I don't agree when it comes to the goldies beliefs about the other races. I've worked alongside people of nearly every race out here. Even Orlan, much as I hate to say it, has just as much of a right to be here as anyone.
When it comes to people it's a matter of nature vs nurture. You can't always help how you were brought up. Sometimes it feels like people are going to grow up to be assholes no matter what you do. A lot of the time though people just need a hand to find a better way."
Into the night the group rotates the watch as usual. Two on the walls, and one near to the fire in the center of town, ready to wake the others at a moment's notice. Several of the wagons the settlers came in were taken apart to use for construction of the town. A few that are left over are still being used as tents.

Past midnight Ocette spots movement to the south and within minutes everyone is up and taking to the town walls. Not you or Neia of course, it's questionable if the platform ringing the interior wall would be able to hold you. The others are being careful to stay as quiet as possible as they take up positions. The wall is just high enough that you can't see over it so you have to listen to goings on.

Ocette and Orlan are each having difficulty telling what the movement is, but it's not a bear. Big but not thickset like a bear is, the harpy seems to think it's moving a bit like a man but with a more stooped posture. A bit of moonlight leaks through the cloud cover helping to illuminate the valley.
"What's that white- Oh gods is that a skull?" Tim whispers before bolting for the stairs, clearly terrified.

Ocette swivels her head until he has a better view.
"Oh, it has antlers. That's neat."
Neia demands to know what the halfling saw but soon enough has a full report from the bird woman. It's a roughly man shaped creature with long clawed hands, twice the height of a man. Its head looks like an exposed elk skull complete with antlers.

Most of the party assembles by the fire while Ocette and Orlan continue to watch the creature as it pokes around the edge of the forest. They're having a hard time keeping track of it as the creature disappears into the shadows only to reappear from the trees elsewhere. That could indicate that it's fast and quiet, there are more than one, or it has control of shadow magic. Everyone is hopeful for anything but the last.

"I've heard of these but it was a long time ago. Where have I heard of these?" Gegor mutters, trying to puzzle out an old memory.

Kaiden and his relatives soon arrive having been woken by other members of the watch.
"Do you know what it is? What we do about it?"
>What say?
>No idea what that is. Let's ask it.
"I don't know what it is but we have a strong party. We outnumber it many times, even if it turns out there is more than one. Let's ask it what it is and what it wants."

"That... is fairly straight forward," Tim admits.

Ferith raises a hand trying to not sound worried.
"Uh, what if this is a trap?"

Orlan points out he can use his earth magic to create protective barriers like with the escape from the two tribes. If that doesn't work he has a few other tricks up his sleeve. Cellica suggests that Ocette and Jib Jab wait on the walls to keep an eye out for any additional dangers.
"We keep weapons ready to use but try not to look like a threat. Sound good?"

Is this plan acceptable?
Not to be judgmental, twig houses and all, but an exposed skull for a head is usually not a sign of friendliness. Might just be a hat, but still.

would suspecting it's a wendigo be to out of character?
Maybe ask it from the safety of the wall? otherwise I'm ok. If it won't respond to being yelled at or flees, it seems safe to assume it's either Intelligent and hostile or not sapient and therefore more like a animal or monster.
try yelling from the wall first
Before anyone can think of opening the gate you vaguely recall hearing of a mythical beast from your cousins in the Iron Hills. What may have been an undead creature that came over the starlight mountains. This gets everyone's attention.

"What was it called?" Kaiden asks, visible concern etched into his brow.

"They called it a weh-chay-uge. My translation is a bit rough, it's a windy... something."
"Windy... wendigo?!" asks Gegor.
You point to the Paladin. "Yes that."
"I didn't think they were undead, but rather cursed."

Tim speaks up.
"Okay, never heard of them, what's their deal?"

Gegor wracks his memory for what little he can remember about them.
"They try to convince, convert or otherwise corrupt other beings with their curse. They tend to cause parties to turn on one another with their magic."

"I don't suppose we could yell at it to go away, or ask what it wants?"
Nobody seems to know if that would work or not.

Orlan suggests warding the valley during daylight to keep such creatures out. If they're aligned toward a particular power, shadow magic for instance, a ward done correctly could subtly convince them to stay away from here. It would take a few days for him to come up with the right design and test it though.

Gegor pulls out his sword, checking it before sheathing it once more.
"Much as I'm reluctant to shoot first and ask questions later, we could take a more proactive approach. Ulf pins it with arrows then Ferith and I get in close enough to kill or purify it."

Cellica still has one other idea on how to talk to it if it wont respond to yelling from the walls.
"I can do some minor illusions. Not like Aman could but close. I can talk to it through the illusion, that way if it ties to put a curse on me it will only be the illusion that gets hit."

[ ] Attempt communication from the walls
[ ] Wait, ward the valley in daylight
[ ] Pin with arrows, purify
[ ] Illusion communication
>[ ] Illusion communication
>[ ] Illusion communication
Should it attack respond in kind. If it runs don't follow and just ward in the morning.
>Illusion communication
"Try the illusion first. It can get close enough to find out if it's a real threat."

"I'll still need to go outside the walls," Cellica warns.
As long as the party can stay near the gates that's still a lot better than having to physically approach that thing.

After arming yourselves the gates are opened and your group steps outside. Cellica does her best to hide behind the rest of the group then sends her illusion out. The Wendigo is still moving among the trees and shadows, all but invisible to you from here. As the illusion approaches the woods Orlan informs you all that it has stopped. Once the fake is a few paces from the trees a clawed hand reaches out, gesturing slightly.

"What is it doing? Is it casting?" Tim anxiously whispers.
The others shush him so Cellica can concentrate. Her illusion continues to step forward then a shadow causes it to vanish into the woods.

The half-elf falls to the ground recoiling in pain.
"OUCH! Owowow! It's biting me!"

Gegor glances over his shoulder yelling at Cellica to dispel the illusion.
"I'm trying, it's doing something!"
Ferith crouches down to help her only for the woman to go silent, drawing her dagger. Orlan grabs Cellica's arm in time to keep her from stabbing the cleric in the throat.

"Ulf shoot it!"

[ ] Bow Shot
[ ] Rapid Fire
[ ] Double shot
[ ] Tear gas shot

Roll 2d20
Rolled 1, 2 = 3 (2d20)

>[ ] Tear gas shot
Rolled 14, 13 = 27 (2d20)

>[ ] Tear gas shot
we just need to stop it right now.
You loose one of the tear gas arrows a short distance into the shadows then ready another. Ocette soon shouts down that she can see a cloud expanding outward from where you shot.

Meanwhile the others are dealing with Cellica.
"What do I do?!" Ferith panics.
"Do what you'd do against demonic possession!" Orlan yells at him.
There's a blast of white light from behind you then Cellica gasps for breath, dropping the dagger with a faint clank.

You can't see the Wendigo but Ocette informs you that it didn't seem to like the tear gas. It had started to move away from the gas being a bit distracted by it. It then started flailing about while swiping its claws at the air when Cellica's illusion vanished.

Firing off a pair of arrows seems to get the message across that you're a bit angry at it for messing with your friend. One of them hits but not hard enough for a kill on a creature that size. It then begins to retreat deeper into the woods almost like a fleeing deer.

Neia hefts her spear, eager to contribute.
"Are we going after it?"

The others aren't sure. Orlan insists on taking Cellica's weapons from her while Ferith does more checks. Gegor is reluctant to pursue while it's dark out.
"I've never heard of possession through an illusion before."

"Theoretically possible," Orlan comments. "If the person doing the illusion is a novice or they're putting too much of their mind into it that link can be reversed. I hadn't read of anyone putting that theory into practice though."
"Can you block it from doing the same thing again?"

Orlan shakes his head. "No, that's the clerics department."

Will you ready torches and horses to pursue, wait until morning to track it, or would warding the valley in daylight be a better plan?
>wait until morning to track it
See if we can't catch it out when it's hopefully more vulnerable, or at least find out where it lives. That way even if it retreats into some dark cave or some such we can just ward the exits instead of the entire valley.
>wait until morning to track it
"Let's wait until morning to track it. If it can manipulate shadows we'll stand no chance in the dark."

It will also give Orlan a chance to do more research into them, potentially preparing more suitable spells.

Cellica is ordered placed under observation for the rest of the night. Gegor and Ferith discuss options while the rest of you get some sleep. By morning the party has settled on a few key pieces of information based on what was soon that night. None of you are to allow the Wendigo to get within ten paces of you or it may be able to use its magic in an attempt to cast a curse or other means of control.

Orlan has some less than thrilling news for you.
"Ulf you may be more vulnerable to the types of curse a Wendigo uses. They tend to be spirits of greed and hunger. Giant kin are... not exactly known for being picky eaters."

"You're worried I'll eat the rest of the party?"
"I'm suggesting you play it safe and keep ten of your paces from the monster. Ferith should be able to lift any curse placed on the party quickly enough, but if you should be afflicted you can do a lot of damage in the time it takes for him to cure you."

Best to make sure that doesn't happen.

Setting out from Hithe the party has to work together to follow the trail left by the creature last the night. This proves harder than expected for something its size. Whatever it may have been bleeding isn't the easiest thing to keep track of.

Roll 1d100
Rolled 86 (1d100)

Rolled 23 (1d100)

Rolled 61 (1d100)

Jib Jab proves to be a big help in addition to the tracking skills of the others. His sense of smell is sharp enough to detect whatever the Wendigo has for blood. He doesn't seem to think it's undead as those smelled different when you encountered the necromancer.

By noon you've followed the trail into the next valley south. From the ridgeline most of you soon realise that it's heading towards one of several golden trees in the area. Despite this efforts to continue following the trail continue. No point in having it double back in an ambush.

Cellica remains a bit anxious after what happened the night before. Understandably so. The constant checking on her by the rest of the party is starting to get to her though.
"Watch for that Wendigo, not for me!" she eventually snaps.
"We need to spot it before it gets close enough."

Not long after Ocette breaks everyone out of their concerns. Using her connection to the forest she thinks she's found what you're looking for. The golden tree ahead that you'd suspected was your destination doesn't feel right to her. She also can't see the Wendigo anywhere.

Cautiously entering a clearing with the great bulk of an ancient tree in the center, it doesn't take you long to notice it's different. Many of the leaves don't look right. Those on one side, and from a few blackened branches in particular, look like they're flaking off layers of green copper residue.

"STOP!" Orlan shouts. Everyone freezes, scanning for enemies.
The mage carefully points to the base of the tree. You'd been too distracted by it's odd state that you'd completely missed what from the corner of your eye looked like stones and driftwood scattered about. Now that you're looking it's easy to pick out the white of skulls resting against its base. Horned Elk skulls.

Tim clears his voice.
"I hate to sound like I'm repeating myself but I'm voting we run the hell back to Hithe right now."
"How many?" asks Gegor, sword at the ready.

Orlan estimates between 8 and 12.
"There's a lot of magic here but it doesn't feel like any of these Wendigo are awake. Maybe they only come out at night?"

"Over here!" Ocette calls, hovering off to the east side of the tree.
Neia heads over to look, much to the consternation of her passenger who begins to protest sticking around. Before long the centaur waves the rest of you over.

The tree on this side is in the worst shape. You can see signs of old axe wounds on the bark and roots, where sap has run down the side of the tree, staining it copper green and black. The darkened tree flesh extends outward from the wounds and up into the branches you saw that looked wrong.

Ocette is distraught that someone would try to chop down a golden tree. She clearly wants to do something about this but Cellica and Gegor urge her to keep her distance. Orlan looks over the mess and shakes his head.
"I don't understand either. Most would try to harvest a golden tree not destroy it like this. They have a lot of magic in them usually."

Having accepted that you're not making a quick getaway Tim takes a look and immediately sounds crestfallen.
"Oh no."
"It's pretty bad," Gegor admits.
"No not that. The tree, the rock it's grown over, it's a meteor. That's adamant and probably some mithril down there."
"What?!" "You're certain?" Orlan and Gegor say in unison.

"Yeah. I'm sure. I've been on enough prospecting expeditions to know what to look for. Someone tried to knock over this tree to get at it."

"Shiny rocks?" Jib Jab asks, clearly not reading the moment. Getting his rope ready he begins to rappel down from your shoulder. You catch the kobold, preventing him from getting any closer to the tree.

Cellica asks her feathered friend to stay a safe distance away but to see what she can feel from the old tree.
"This tree is angry. It... greed and hunger, greed and hunger." Her voice shifts becoming deeper.
"Curse the ones led astray by their greed and hunger."

"Ocette!" Cellica shouts, snapping the druid out of her trance.

The harpy looks among the party momentarily confused.
"What was I saying?"
No one is quite sure what to do about this development. Ocette may be a druid but she doesn't have the experience necessary to deal with a problem like this. Also the fact that the tree may have unleashed a fairly powerful curse that could pose a threat to anyone living nearby.
The lump of starmetal sitting there also isn't going to make anything easier. If anything it's just going to attract more people that the tree might curse.

Ferith sums it up nicely.
"So um, this is really bad right?"

>How do you plan to deal with this? / What do?
We should get in touch with the druids and get them to handle the situation. Does Ocette know or is she able to send a message to the closest druid grove? It may sour our relations with the colony but its better than angering most druids in such a rural region.

Does she also know if there anything we can provide to appease the tree in general? Other than tracking down the criminals I guess.
>Contact nearest group of druids
>Find out if the colonists injured the tree

>Is the tree responsible for the wendigos appearance? If yes, did it create them or attract them?
You agree it's baad but how bad still may depend on just what the tree has been doing.
"Did that thing attract a bunch of Wendigos or create them?"
Ocette thinks it was probably the latter, cursing those that were attacking it. As Wendigo tend to influence others into becoming more of their kind, that curse could easily be spreading beyond its originally intended target.

That's enough for you.
"We need to contact druids to deal with this. If the tree itself is cursing people they're the only ones who stands a chance right?"
"Right," Cellica agrees, looking to Ocette. "Do you know where the nearest group of druids might be?"
"I've never been this far south before. Normally I say near the city."

If your estimate of where you are on the map is right you're 450km east of Ballidon. A Harpy could fly that in two days but it would be a long trek back for the druids. Ferith has an idea for something closer. Most orc tribes have a number of druids or are on fairly good terms with them. Of course that would entail risking contact with tribes that may just prefer to take captives.

Ocette finally thinks of something.
"I could try to contact a forest spirit like a dryad. They might know."

Orlan however isn't thrilled with the chances of finding a friendly forest spirit this close to a tree that's throwing out curses. Especially today.
"We need to be out of here before sunset and those Wendigos wake up."

Neia thinks you can make it back to Hithe before sunset thanks to how quickly you were moving earlier. The party doesn't waste any time in racing back into the next valley. You take up rear guard keeping an eye out for anything that may be following. Jib Jab is rather disappointed that you wont be taking any of the shiny rocks with you.

Arriving at Hithe Gegor dismounts and heads straight for Kaiden Wallis.
"The valley south of here, tell me none of your people went into that valley."

The old soldier shakes his head.
"No, all of our people are accounted for. None of us have risked going farther south."
He frowns, voice hardening.
"What did you find? Are we in danger?"

"Whatever you do stay out of that valley and remain inside the walls at night. You should be safe enough for now. Are any of your people druids?"
"Only apprentice levels."

Not good enough. More local solutions like the nearby tribes could work but the most powerful druids who can be reached reliably are near Silver Mantle.

[ ] Contact the nearest friendly orc tribe
[ ] Have Ocette contact a forest spirit/dryad
[ ] Contact Ballidon
[ ] Plan your return to the city
[ ] Other suggestion / Write-in
>[ ] Have Ocette contact a forest spirit/dryad

>[ ] Plan your return to the city
If we move out ourselves, how fast could we run back to the city?
>If we move out ourselves, how fast could we run back to the city?
In theory as little as 10 days, but that's more likely to be 12-15 days due to rough terrain and orcs.
I really should stop here for tonight. Resuming tomorrow.
Contact Ballidon
Have Ocette contact a forest spirit/dryad
Ask if their is a easy and quick way to "calm" the tree. Might need to talk to Hithe about the situation. Ask them if they know what they've done.
>[ ] Contact the nearest friendly orc tribe
>[ ] Have Ocette contact a forest spirit/dryad
>[ ] Contact the nearest friendly orc tribe
>[ ] Have Ocette contact a forest spirit/dryad
If it's one of the smaller tribes a sufficient show of force should keep us safe, and it's in the orc's own interest to see the problem solved before an entire towns worth of wendigos start pouring out into the region.
[ ] Other suggestion / Write-in
Find out if there are any rituals or offerings that could be done by the settlers druids to appease the spirits, or show respect for nature in general to hopefully make them less of a target.
>Might need to talk to Hithe about the situation. Ask them if they know what they've done.
At this point very little beyond clearing land of regular trees to build their town and plant crops. At least if the old man is to be believed about none of them going into that valley. Keeping it that way may prove more difficult in the future if it becomes known just what is over there.

First things first though. Ocette attempts to locate a forest spirit to talk to about this. She soon reports that none strong enough to manifest as a dryad are immediately nearby. One is in the next valley north of here which she can see about contacting tomorrow. You'll need to head more or less in that direction to find the nearest orc tribe anyways.

That night a watch is kept from the walls once more. This time no Wendigo get close enough to be seen by anyone, but it's a good bet one or more may be out there skulking through the darkness.

In the morning Kaiden Wallis gives the group a bundle of letters to deliver to the city, along with a few silver as payment for taking them. You may be back, but that's not a certainty so it's best to take these with you now.

It doesn't take long to get rolling and enter the next valley to the north. This time you only encounter one grizzly bear and manage to scare it away. Within a few hours Ocette locates the grove of trees she's looking for and calls to the local forest spirit.

Most of the party are on edge after yesterdays events, so it's difficult to not be a bit apprehensive as all of you start to hear voices. Voices that are too distant and indistinct to make out but soon multiply in number. Eventually one becomes louder than the rest, laughing and giggling.

What at first looks to you like a rather small slim orc woman appears from behind the largest oak tree. Her limbs look like they're made of wood and when she speaks it's with a voice like the rushing of wind through leaves. You can't understand her but Ocette, Cellica and Neia all are able to.
Orlan looks rather nonplussed that he can't contribute to the conversation. Tim and Gegor act as though they were expecting this, while you Ferith and Jib Jab just have to guess what's going on.

Eventually Cellica fills the rest of you in on what's going on. The Dryad has been aware that something was wrong with one of the trees to the south for some time now. Years possibly, which rules out this latest group of settlers. No one had really talked to her about it before nor has she gone out of her way to contact any druids. Apparently she expected nature to correct itself eventually, one way or another.

"Most forest spirits that knew about the tree guessed it would either get better over time or die."

Orlan shakes his head.
"If it is getting better then it's going to take a long time to heal what we saw yesterday."

While the spirit can't go far from her home trees, she (or it) is able to point you toward stronger druids that are with an orc tribe. They're not terribly aggressive by orc standards so it should be mostly safe to approach. With the rough terrain it's going to take the better part of 3 days to reach them.

Roll 2d100 for diplomatic contact. Hope you don't need the second one.
Rolled 94, 46 = 140 (2d100)

>Hope you don't need the second one.
With the way most of the dice in this thread have turned out that seems optimistic.
Rolled 75, 77 = 152 (2d100)

Heading west by northwest the party makes good time toward the territory of the tribe. On arrival you manage to encounter some of their druids out in the field before having to risk approaching the tribe stronghold. This group calls themselves the Shadow Bow Tribe. They control a fork in the river and are known to sell their services as ambushers to larger tribes. Because of this they have a truce with the Black Bear Clans north of them.

Their druids you encountered promise you safe passage to one of their lesser strongholds. This one located on the banks of the river is used mainly for trade. If it weren't for you and Neia this would be an excellent place to get faster passage down river to the crossing. It would shave more than two days off travel time.

The druids are told of the tree and the curse it has used in response someone attacking it. After hearing this they promise to send a group of some of their most experienced druids. They should be able to help the tree, though its situation sounds dire. As for the Wendigo it has surrounded itself with there may be nothing they can do to remove the curse. At best they'll be forced to destroy the creatures.

That leaves two issues left to discuss. Firstly if you'll accompany the druids back as added protection or guides. Secondly what should they be told about the rock the tree has grown over? Do they even need to know what it is or should they be sworn to secrecy?

>1) Accompany the druids back?

>2) What will you tell them of the rock?
A family related thing has just come up. I have to step out for an hour or two.
>>1) Accompany the druids back?
>>2) What will you tell them of the rock?
>1) Accompany the druids back?
>2) What will you tell them of the rock?

Take care. Hope all is well.
>1) Accompany the druids back?
Sure but we should see about some sort of payment, possibly in the form of goldenbark or a new or upgraded bow.
>2) What will you tell them of the rock?
Sure, but make it clear to them that they should not tell anybody, unless they can extract the rock from underneath the tree. If they can't do that word spreading would only lead to bloodshed.

A possible solution could be letting the tree die or moving it, this way they could sell of the rock or rights to it, and use the wealth for their version of a greater good, cut off the branch to save the forest.
Back and writing.
"We should accompany the druids back there. They might need an escort to protect them from those things."
Cellica is a bit nervous about going near that tree again but the others talk her into it. If the tree or a Wendigo should posses the druids it would result in a very dangerous situation.

As for telling them about the rock that is a matter of debate. On the one hand they should be warned about everything, but on the other this is a dangerous secret. Ultimately it's decided they'll be told, just not here. Farther into the forest away from other members of the orc tribes and traders.

"It would be nice if we could get some sort of payment out of this too."

"Not so fast giant," warns an old crone. "We don't even know what's going to be involved yet in dealing with this tree. After. We can discuss what will happen after."

In addition to the druids one shaman from the tribe will be accompanying them. Ferith and Orlan discuss what was necessary to break the Wendigo's possession before in case all three of them end up with their hands full.

When stopping for the night the matter of the rock is finally brought up. The druids are of course aware of the implications of this along with the need to keep it a secret. Their Shaman however is more of the opinion that they should have taken an army to the tree to protect and guard its treasure.
"Think what this could do for our tribe!"

One of the younger druids is quick to temper the magic user's expectations.
"Yes, it could get us wiped out by six other tribes and a horde of southerner mercenaries."
"We will swear to secrecy on this matter, as will you Vrag," the oldest of the druids informs him.
This Vrag doesn't seem happy about it but he swears to do as they say.

During the trek you ask if it might be possible to shift the tree safely to remove the rock. As long as it's there it poses a threat to the tree.
"I suspect you mean well but keep such thoughts out of your mind when we get near the tree. A Wendigo could twist and use weak justifications as a way into the mind."

Well that's a frightening thought.

During the last night before entering the valley torches are lit and kept alight the entire night. A few are posted a dozen paces out from the camp site. After promising to replace it you're convinced by Orlan and Vrag to use your pouch of salt to make a protective ring. What use wasting that much salt would be you don't really understand.
File: Gold tree.jpg (17 KB, 226x223)
17 KB
Only once the sun has risen above the mountains to the east does the group continue. Entering the valley it doesn't take long to locate the previous approach. Fortunately all of the Wendigo skulls look to be back in place around the base of the tree. Even with your warnings and descriptions the druids are surprised by the ring of skulls.

The more experienced druids attempt to carefully approach and touch the tree but are driven back. The tree isn't just wounded but it may have been poisoned by the metal from the meteor. Its disposition has been altered considerably from that of a normal golden tree.

Gegor doesn't understand.
"If that's the case how did it survive long enough to grow this big?"

While the other druids begin looking around, their leader Silgy explains.
"It must have poisoned its blood, its sap, when it was cut open. These trees are possessed of great magic, but so to is this black metal. I have never seen the likes of this before."

"Is there no way to treat it?" Cellica asks.
"We can put it to sleep for a time. That should keep the Wendigo it turned its enemies into from rising to walk the land when the sun goes down. It would work like a magic seal, but these trees can not be kept in such a state for long. Eventually it will break the seal itself or nature will begin to rebel against the imbalance created."

The magic users get to work helping two of the druids in temporarily sealing the tree. They finish their work in a little over 3 hours. With the tree "sleeping" the druids are able to more safely approach without the constant pain and anger making their work all but impossible. What quickly becomes clear to them is that any part of the tree warped by the adamant infected blood can not be healed. The druids have no power over it.

If what Srayagoth told you was right, that the goddess of the druids was once a Titan, then god metals like adamant would in theory be beyond their control. Dwarves despite being stone kin still found a way to forge it though. Possibly better than anyone else. They might know how to counter this poisoning but would not be inclined to help. They'd want that meteor no matter what.

Someone tricking them into finding a cure, or simply making a contract with vague details could work. It also runs a greater risk of word getting out. Worse the time it would take to concoct such a cure would mean the tree waking up once more and Wendigo terrorizing the surrounding valleys.

"Is there no way to remove the infected section of the tree?" Neia asks, sounding frustrated. "Even I have heard of druids coaxing trees to part with limb and root at times."

"Possible," Silgy admits, "but we would need it to happen far enough from the poison that good parts of the tree are rejected. That's too much even for one this size to survive."

Orlan and Vrag hear this and approach.
"Are you thinking a mercy killing is in order?" asks the mage.
Even the suggestion of this upsets Ocette enough for her to fly off. Cellica is torn between chasing after her and trying to find a solution.
"Surely there must be another way."

The old crone is silent for a time, lost in thought staring at the tree.
"There might be away. We do as the half-horse says-"
"Half-horse?!" Neia exclaims, Tim shushing her.
"We get it to reject the poisoned wood and blood. Then one of the druids merge with the tree to seal its wound and save it."

"How does that work?" Gegor questions.
"We become one with the wood and tree. We cease to exist as we were when brought into this world."

"Is that a thing druids can do?" Ferith wonders aloud. "I'm learning so many things on this trip."

Cellica walks over to stand in front of Silgy, making sure the old druid isn't distracted.
"You're talking about dying to save this tree?"
"I suppose I am."

Vrag is against this. Their tribe needs as many powerful druids as possible, especially if they get involved in the war between the Black Bear Clans.

[ ] Mercy killing, save the druids and end the tree
[ ] Trick the dwarves into helping counteract the poison
[ ] Noble sacrifice, save the tree at the cost of a druids life
[ ] Write-in?
[ ] Noble sacrifice, save the tree at the cost of a druids life
What if the settlers promised to help by training them or lending aid, as thanks for ending the threat. That way the loss of the druid could be offset. This of course predisposing that this is the preferred solution of the druids.
>[ ] Noble sacrifice, save the tree at the cost of a druids life
Figure out a way to (partially) compensate the tribe for the loss of a druid
>What if the settlers promised to help by training them or lending aid, as thanks for ending the threat.
At this time none of the orc tribes in the area even know for certain where the caravan settled. The Black Bear Clans along with some traders and trappers know the direction they were headed but not their actual end point.

Are you okay with revealing their location to the Shadow Bow Tribe?
Ah I see. Not without asking them first then, but considering their walls are finished, I don't foresee it being to big of a point of contention. I would be surprised if the settlers were banking on none of the locals ever learning where they are.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASEVFEEOnRo [The Expanse - Alone]

"Save the tree while ending the curse? The path ahead seems certain to me."

Silgy looks up to you.
"It does doesn't it?"

Vrag steps between her and the tree.
"Silgy don't do this."
"It's already done it's just a matter of putting the work in now."
"Grandmather, please."
"Oh so now you're going to get all sentimental. I'm going to do this. Much as I like the little games we may play when raiding or ambushing other tribes I'd rather have a say in how I meet my end. The time we accidentally beheaded that one fellow with the trap instead of entangling his horse still gets a laugh out of me though. Oh happy accidents, I'm going to miss those."

Vrag reluctantly stands aside to allow Silgy to pass, placing her hand on the tree near the edge of the poisoned are she begins faintly chanting. As the rest of you watch not a whole lot seems to be happening. Realizing she's become the focus of attention the druid stops her chanting and turns to the rest of you.

"What are you all standing around so dramatically for? It's going to take the better part of a day or more to get the tree ready to part with that much of itself. Go get the camp ready and find that bird friend of yours!"

Most of the party splits up looking for Ocette, eventually convincing her that you're not going to destroy the tree. This provides you with ample opportunity to talk to the others about the druids and the presence of the settlement nearby.

"I had a few ideas about helping out the Shadow Bow Tribe since they're going to be losing one of their druids. Perhaps the new settlement may be willing to work with them at times in return for removing the threat of Wendigo attacks?"

Gegor shrugs.
"I'm not sure Ulf, all we can do is ask. Maybe they won't even want tribes knowing their precise location yet?"

"I think they'll have a better chance of accepting or at least considering it fairly if you asked," Cellica tells the paladin.
"That's a good point."

Gegor decides to ride to the next valley with Neia and Tim. They can be back tomorrow with news before the druids make their attempt to cure the tree. The rest of you will remain behind to help protect the druids in case anything does go wrong. Orlan is confident enough in the seal that's in place that Gegor is willing to risk splitting the party.

Everyone has taken up positions a safe distance from the tree when the sun goes down. Vrag curses in orcish pointing to one of the skulls. Glancing over you think you catch one of the eye sockets glowing with an eerie light but it soon vanishes. Half of those present let out a collective sigh of relief.

"The seal worked." Orlan sounds quite proud of himself, even if he hadn't done it alone.

"We should still have two of us stand guard," Cellica helpfully points out.
Her suggestion is met with derision from one of the younger druids.
"No shit whiteling, we have bears to worry about no matter how many druids we brought along."

Silgy claps the younger one upside the head.
"They're city folk. Don't pay it any mind if they want to plan out how careful they're being. Those of you who need sleep, get it now. Saving that tree is going to take a lot of work so we need to start early."

Gegor and party return before noon. He's brought a conditional offer for the Shadow Bows to be talked over after the curse is gone.

It's into the afternoon when the hard working druids are ready. Everyone is ordered to stay as far back as possible as there's a small chance their efforts might wake some of the Wendigo if it goes haywire. With that in mind you ready your bow, ready to knock a few skulls off.

"Don't used the damned tree as a backstop for your arrows!" Silgy warns.
Right. You shift your aim slightly and get ready to relocate if necessary.

The ritual or whatever the druids call it gets underway proper. The tree and the air around it begins to give off a subtle golden glow, looking like the sun is shining on its leaves a certain way. When it comes to the infected parts they just seem more dark and desolate than before.

The glow begins to intensify around the edges of the wounded area, looking more and more like a gap is forming the shade and colouration of the leaves themselves. Then with a mighty crack the blackened portions of the tree break off. One whole branch falls away followed by bark from the main trunk and part of the exposed damaged roots. In its place looks like a gold foil similar to the trees leaves, but it quickly begins to fade in colour.

The druids pull back the bark and wood that has fallen away while Silgy rips off her robes before pressing herself into the gap. At once the old woman's limbs turn the colour of bark, the protective layer spreading outward from her across the exposed sections of the tree.

From your vantage point you cant hear what she or the others are saying but it looks to be working. You glance down to the Wendigo skulls, seeing points of light glowing in a few eye sockets. They're not moving yet but as a precaution you draw a bead on one of them regardless.

By the time you look up the last of the quickly darkening foil is being covered over by the druid's new bark. Of Silgy herself there is soon little left, only the faint shape of her head and back. As the glow fades it looks as natural as the rest of the now healed tree. As though her head were once part of another branch that had broken off and grown over long ago.

Ferith looks up from behind an oak tree he'd been taking cover behind.
"Did it work?"

One of the druids walk over to the nearest Wendigo skull and picks it up. Soon it begins to crumble into dust.
Ocette and the other druids confirm that the tree is healing and no longer trying to lay curses on everyone and anyone nearby. When the seal is lifted the orcs, and those of your party that were able to talk to the dryad earlier, all report occasionally hearing the old druid's ringing laughter.
She and the tree have an understanding it sounds like.

You've heard old tales of giants turning to stone for one reason or another, but never of a person turning into a tree. Or part of a tree. Then again orcs are green, maybe that helps? This is definitely not a field you've ever considered putting thought into before.

Any poisoned remains of the tree are pulled as far away as possible. Work is then done to camouflage the meteor so no one else tries to do something as foolish as attacking the tree again. Stacking rocks and burying them with earth is considered to be good enough for now. A few druids will take turns watching over this place in the future.

Much of the adamant poisoned wood has been ruined but hardly all of it. Some in the party would like to provide samples to alchemists to try and find a cure for the poisoning in the future. Vrag is still not happy but at the same time he would rather be rid of a good portion of the material.
"It won't be mistaken for any wood taken forcibly from a golden tree. No promise on the quality but if any of you wish it I can ask the rest of the druids to craft an item for each of you out of it."

>Adamant Poisoned Golden Tree (Select 1)
[ ] Bow
[ ] Chest piece
[ ] Gauntlets
[ ] Greaves
[ ] Write-in/ Other??
>[ ] Bow
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Sorry for the 4 post wall of text.
>[ ] Bow
Work is started on the weapons and equipment for the party. Carrying much in the way of left over material would be difficult ordinarily so this would be the best way of getting it out of here. You can still carry quite a bit in your backpack though. Because of this a good portion of whatever scraps are being left to the party can be hauled back to the alchemists to study. Or alternatively to give to the druids up north to see if they can craft anything out of it.

Meanwhile the more diplomatically inclined members of the group try to see if they can improve relations with the orc shaman. When he finds out that new settlement is nearby he's initially quite angry.
"Now I understand everything. Our tribe weakened to save a few humans."

Cellica verbally tears into him for this.
"We weren't going to leave the tree like that. The curse was in danger of spreading. If we had told the settlement about the meteor they would have tried everything to tear down that tree. Maybe not right away but eventually."

Agreeing to listen to more of what they have to say Gegor tells him that Hithe is willing to work with the druids to an extent. They'll guarantee safe passage and refuge to any from their tribe in return for the same from the Shadow Bows. Hithe will also provide two apprentice druids that are willing to learn to help with whatever the druids here will be doing.
"They don't know about the rock, and as long as your druids don't say anything it should stay that way."

"This may not do anything to replace the loss of my grandmother, but it would make it easier to keep an eye on her tree. I'm certain my tribe will agree to this, but the moment these settlers betray us our people will make them regret it. I give it five years at most."

A few years of truce is better than nothing.

>1) Roll 2d20 for new item quality.

>2) Return to the city at this time, or did you have anything else in mind?
>Return to the city at this time
Let's not push them any further.
"Does anyone else feel that we've spent enough time out in the wild? We should return to the city and finally get paid for finding the settlement."

There is little disagreement from the rest of the party. You'd be most of the way back to the city by now were it not for this little side quest with the tree and the Wendigo. On the plus side you'll be getting some nice things out of it.

Well "nice" in the sense that the equipment the druids are crafting for you all will be better than most average run of the mill gear. They aren't entirely sure of the properties of the poisoned material. It should be safe to handle in theory but you may not want to use them on a regular basis right away.

You're getting a bow of course. Your current one is from a heavily modified ballista, which was only slightly better than the rough bows you grew up with on the plains. If it turns out it leaches a small amount of poison you'll just have to find someone who can treat it properly. Maybe a proper bow sealant would keep it in? Worst case scenario probably.

Roll 2d20 for new item quality.
Rolled 18, 6 = 24 (2d20)

>2) Return to the city at this time, or did you have anything else in mind?
Return to the city.
Rolled 2, 20 = 22 (2d20)

Come on.
Rolled 7, 17 = 24 (2d20)

The poisoning has certainly changed its properties but it looks like it's still as good or nearly so compared to a bow made of golden tree bark. They were a little worried the adamant would make it more brittle, or maybe even make it stronger somehow. You're urged to give it a day or two to let it set before using it.

Better news is that it's not leaking poison out and should take to enchantments just fine. Even so several of the others intend to check this on the trip back.

Orlan is quite happy with a new staff. Gegor and Neia meanwhile went for shields that they intend to further customize. For now they'll stick with their steel shields. Ferith oddly asked for greaves as he informs you he tends to injure his shins a great deal.

Everyone else goes for a chest piece of one kind or another, though Ocette refuses to wear hers claiming it doesn't feel right. She might give it to her sister. Jib Jab is excited to get back to the city where he can get his previous armor remade into kobold sized gauntlets. As long as you're okay with paying a few silver for that.

The Shadow Bow Tribe is the party's next destination accompanying Vrag and most of the remaining druids. There are few if any difficulties along the way to report on. From there things get more tricky.

The shortest path back to Silver Mantle would theoretically take you through the fortified town of Lansdowne. The thing is, the terrain around there is extremely rough in places making a direct approach from the east all but impossible. That leaves going farther south nearer to Ballidon and taking the road, or following the river north until you return to the crossing.
The former is a longer trip but the latter increases the chances of encountering skirmishing between the Black Bear Clans.

[ ] South West, slower but safer
[ ] North, faster but riskier
[ ] Break trail, try to make a new shortcut to Lansdowne
Running through the morning tomorrow.
>[ ] Break trail, try to make a new shortcut to Lansdowne
>[ ] Break trail, try to make a new shortcut to Lansdowne
>North, faster but riskier
>[ ] Break trail, try to make a new shortcut to Lansdowne
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"I have an idea for a shortcut!" you declare.
Enthusiasm is mixed so you continue on.
"Going as far south as Ballidon is too long of a detour given how long we've been in the field. Going north to the crossing could work but risks encountering war parties. Tim, can I see your maps."

The halfling lays out his maps and you get down to take a closer look.
"Is it not possible to navigate through these lands to the south east and reach Lansdowne more quickly?"

"Possible maybe, the marshes are only bad directly east through north but a lot of that is shield rock. Can be a bit rough for the horses," Tim points out.

"I can break trail and help the rest of you out with crossings of rougher streams."
You're confident about this. It can be done. You've learned a lot about what you and the rest of the party are capable of over the past month. Working together you plot a course that should shave days off of travel time.

As some of the party had worried it is certainly rough, with rock, rapids, marsh and bog. In some ways the rock is actually helpful in ensuring marshland and small lakes aren't too widespread. There are beaver dams everywhere though, which conveniently means there is good eating available as they're actually quite good when properly cooked. You'd thought they were alright even uncooked.

Despite difficulties your size proves to be an advantage, allowing the party to forge through where others would have faltered or had to longer routes. Actually picking up the horses to ferry them across a rapid at one point may have saved you the better part of a day. Neia does not like being picked up, barely managing to avoid a panic, and is rather flustered by the whole thing afterward.

"This is- that was not proper. Centaurs don't just get picked up and carried."

Tim points out that centaurs also don't carry people either but she lets him hitch a ride.
"That's different, you're a halfling."
"Oh, so you're saying it IS okay for a bigger person to carry a smaller person then."
"...I hate you so much some days."
Despite delays and setbacks you still managed to save yourselves two full days of travel that going farther south would have added. Moving at a good clip on the road it only takes another four days to reach Silver Mantle. Everyone is exhausted in some capacity. Physically, mentally, the entire party needs a break.

Given how long you were out in the wilds the clerics insist on checking everyone. This is met with groans of annoyance.
"But we had a cleric with us the whole time!" Orlan protests.

The dwarven cleric crosses his arms, a frown stuck on his face.
"I don't give a shit. The rangers only just finished getting the rabies outbreak under control. We are following procedure."

As it's getting dark after the checkup everyone agrees to meet at the hiring hall the next morning. The MMRC agent fills out forms along with taking note of the map location of the settlement to be passed along to the person who requested the contract. Payment they note is going to be a bit odd. You'll have to talk to the Talons higher ups for details.

"Those details had better include a fat sack of coin," Tim grumbles.

Gegor also drops off a message of sorts from Vrag and the druids in his tribe with the local Druidic Coalition contact. They're rather suspicious at first, seeing your bow and the armor a couple of your party members are wearing. After looking over the small rune covered tablet that the paladin had handed over their attitude changes completely.
"You- you helped save a golden tree?"

Gegor gives the man a rough idea of what happened, leaving out the presence of the rock. He thanks all of you for this and says that if any of you need repairs of modification of your new equipment to come see them.

>SLVT standing +6
>DRC standing +10
Nice! We will want to warn the city guard about the Ogres assisting the Orc tribes that we ran into.
The Talons are quite happy with the outcome of the mission. Having located the caravan's destination along with bringing back word from them, and even neutralizing a threat to their settlement. After all that the increase in standing with them is seems like a reasonable response. You just hope it comes with a commensurate level of pay.

Or as Tim puts it; "Yes, big goddamn heroes, we're glad it worked out. Can we get our reward now? I have debts to pay off and the bank will be after me once they know I'm back in town."

That is going to be more complicated. The shareholder who requested the mission has asked to see the party personally. One of the Talons officers leads you all out of the hiring hall and over to one of the brick and stone houses situated to the north of the hall and the assembly field. This one is more of a small mansion, with several stories extending upward topped by slate shingle roof.

The officer talks to one of the house servants and there's a short discussion. He hands over the letter from Kaiden Wallis and the servant vanishes inside with it. Eventually a well dressed grey haired woman steps outside onto the porch in the middle of asking precisely why the guests can't be shown inside. Then she looks up.

"Oh, a giant and a centaur. That would make it more difficult to use the lounge. I suppose we'll have to talk out here. Thank you, all of you, for going looking for my dear cousin and my sons. Mostly my cousin. I'd resigned myself to the fact that my sons had probably gotten themselves killed in their foolishness by now."

After a deep sigh she skims through the letter then continues.
"Forgive me, introductions are in order. My name is Agatha A. Balavin, I own a considerable share of the Silver Talons, along with a few other businesses in town. That you managed to track down my family despite the journey taking you through dangerous territory is no a small thing in my estimation.
I can reward you with some paltry amount of silver if you wish. I'll still be providing some to help cover any bills you may need. My primary business is in the acquisition, trade and manufacture of magical trinkets. They're small baubles most of the time really, but ones that can carry quite interesting effects.
I can provide each of you with one such enchanted item, or have one of your existing items enchanted. Whichever you prefer. Try not to make it too outlandish, there are reasons most of these things I deal in are rather small."

This is no small gift, no matter the size of the actual item itself you might be given. This could allow you to finally get an enchantment on your bow, the old or new one. The new one would likely make the most sense unless you expect to find someone who is a master of such enchantments in the future.

There are also many other items of utility that might be worth getting instead for the time being. Tara the ranger has an amulet that allows her to see in the dark. A portable hole as suggested by Tenn Duskarm for transporting quantities of goods using an enchanted piece of cloth. He had also mentioned sympathetic link amulets that would allow instant communication over distances. That would let you and Jib Jab coordinate very long range bow or stone shot for indirect fire.

Mrs Balavin stares at you deep in thought before snapping her fingers.
"I know of one thing that might interest you giant. With so many kinds of magical amulets in existence it's possible you've never heard of them before. It's possible to enchant a necklace, band or ring to allow someone to shrink to half their size. That might be enough for a giant to go inside of buildings or mines."

"You would still have to duck a bit," Cellica points out.

That's certainly not an option you would have ever considered.

>Any other ideas for magical items you might be interested in?
what kind of bow enchantments are there?
Some kinda of magical laser spotting devise for those long range artillery strikes. Like Jib Jab points it at something and we have special glasses or some kind of receiver that makes it visible to us. Technically two items, so if not possible I'm fine with a lot of the other options. Leaning towards bow enchantments or night vision googles.
I just got an other idea for an elektical personal defence item that zaps anyone who tries to attack us, it could be stronger than usual because we ourselves are immune, just be gotta be careful not to activate it with Jib Jab on us. Alternately put it on the arm bracer for added defence and offence. might even be used to give some extra umpf to metal arrows.
A ring of invisibility.
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>what kind of bow enchantments are there?
A lot of options, but there are limits to what some of them can do to your ammo.

Speed/force- Fairly straight forward, makes the bow shoot harder/farther
Piercing- Grants any arrows additional armor penetration
Tireless Archer- Recovery enchantment that grants greater stamina and may slowly heal.
Deflection- Ranged fire will have a harder time hitting the weapons user.

Earth/stone- Gives arrows greater strength and mass when fired (Incompatible with lightning arrows)
Lightning- Grants additional lighting damage to arrows (Incompatible with druid/stone arrows)
Fire- Grants additional heat/fire damage to arrows (Incompatible with ice arrows)
Ice- Grants additional ice/cold damage to arrows (Incompatible with fire arrows)
Wind- Grants additional wind damage/accuracy to arrows
Spirit- Grants additional non-aligned magic damage to arrows

There are others but they're unavailable to you at this time. These include Holy and necromantic damage along with illusion arrow multiplication. Also certain things cant be put on bows, only the arrows themselves.

You can only put 1 enchantment on your bow so make it a good one.
>A ring of invisibility.
This reminds of that game where a DM started stomping their feet louder and louder while the party was arguing. Finally the players asked what the hell his problem was and he answered: There's a frost giant sneaking up behind you.
>Some kinda of magical laser spotting devise for those long range artillery strikes. Like Jib Jab points it at something and we have special glasses or some kind of receiver that makes it visible to us.
The closest to that would be a paired wand and arrow. Someone uses the wand to mark a target and the arrows will seek out that target to a limited extent. It would probably be a good idea to put a separately enchanted arrow head on it, maybe with an AOE spell. The whole thing is going to be really expensive because it needs 2-3 separate enchanted items. Possibly more.
The Air Corps might use a weapon like this to take out a high value target, but even they'd be reluctant to do so because of how much the arrow alone would cost.

>elektical personal defence item that zaps anyone who tries to attack us,
Most places don't do active defense inclined enchantments on armor because the risk of accident is rather high. You can get warding that will negate or lessen incoming spells, that sort of thing, but the sort of defense/armor you're looking for hasn't been widely available in a long time.

NOTE: Armor worn by the elemental giants is believed to have been capable of this.
In that case. Earth enchantment for one the bows seems good for both siege warfare and pining down or knocking away tagetes. Imagine getting hit in the arm with an arrow the size of an small tree and survive, only to find that you can't get up because the arrow is as heavy as a horse.
Okay let's get some votes then. I'll be stopping here for now.

[ ] Night/dark vision
[ ] Portable hole
[ ] Sympathetic link amulets
[ ] Shrinking amulet
[ ] Ring of invisibility
[ ] Bow (Specify)
>Speed/force- Fairly straight forward, makes the bow shoot harder/farther
>Piercing- Grants any arrows additional armor penetration
>Tireless Archer- Recovery enchantment that grants greater stamina and may slowly heal.
>Deflection- Ranged fire will have a harder time hitting the weapons user.
>Earth/stone- Gives arrows greater strength and mass when fired (Incompatible with lightning arrows)
>Lightning- Grants additional lighting damage to arrows (Incompatible with druid/stone arrows)
>Fire- Grants additional heat/fire damage to arrows (Incompatible with ice arrows)
>Ice- Grants additional ice/cold damage to arrows (Incompatible with fire arrows)
>Wind- Grants additional wind damage/accuracy to arrows
>Spirit- Grants additional non-aligned magic damage to arrows
>[ ] Night/dark vision
>Shrinking amulet
>>[ ] Night/dark vision
>[ ] Night/dark vision
This will be handy far more often, great for a starter item.
>[ ] Ring of invisibility
>[ ] Night/dark vision
A magic item that lets you see in the dark would be most helpful in your opinion. There have been too many instances where you've pursued an enemy only for them to escape into the darkness of night. Never again. The night will not protect your enemies from the threat of your bow any longer.

"A sensible choice," Mrs Balavin comments. "Those of you who wish to think over your own choices for a bit longer simply talk to my butler."

"Invisible ring?" Jib Jab asks.
This gets Agatha Balavin's attention.

"Oh. My. Goodness. There's a little kobold sitting on your shoulder, how adorable. What are your skills?"
"Jib Jab sneak?"
"Really? Who taught you that?"
"Learned from tribe."

Agatha looks to you for an explanation.
"I captured several kobolds from a orc tribe. They tried to blockade the trade road south of Ballidon."
"Oh yes, I recall hearing a report of such an incident several weeks ago. He's been with you since?"
"Uh, yes ma'am."

Mrs Balavin squints at you and Jib Jab, looking for something then presses on.
"To my knowledge there are a few kobolds working for the Talons or as independent contractors. One of them could provide additional training to you Jib Jab, though I should point out most will charge fees for such training. These fees can be waived for full members."

>Additional training for Jib Jab is now available!
Jib Jab can now take on additional training in a number of areas. These will require paying an instructor proficient in a particular field. Jib Jab will automatically pick up training from them over several weeks any time you are in the city.

>Jib Jab status: Basic Rogue (+ Kobold Tracking)
Additional training upgrades:
[ ] Trained Dagger Rogue
[ ] Trained Bow Rogue
[ ] Basic Ranger (upgrades Kobold Tracking)

Do you want to pay for Jib Jab to start training in a particular field at this time?
(As neither of you are full members of the Talons this will cost 100 silver.)
>[X] Basic Ranger (upgrades Kobold Tracking)
I think this would be a good starting investment with how we have been pairing off already.
>[ ] Basic Ranger (upgrades Kobold Tracking)
>[X] Basic Ranger (upgrades Kobold Tracking)
Utility is his primary role, shooting and stabbing with giant weaponry will always be better regardless of the little guy’s training.
With Mrs Balavin thanking all of you for a job well done, and promising to get your respective items within the week, she heads inside. The officer from the Talons breathes a sigh of relief at this.

"You all did the company a great service getting this done. If a party hadn't taken this on soon I was going to have to deal with it personally. Mrs Balavin can be very insistent. Being one of the few shareholders to actually live in the north we can't simply ignore her like we can with most of them back south in the empire.

I know you all just got back and probably want to rest, but we've had a few caravans in while all of you were away. A lot of trade is going on between the nearby tribes right now so things are busy for us. We also know about the war among the Black Bear Clans heating up. Expect some related postings to go up in the next week once the city decides its position on the matter.
A word of warning, some tribes are already trying to hire mercenaries through independent agents here in the city. Be aware of this if you take any jobs across the river."

The others thank the officer for the warning and begin to disperse. Before you can go the man raises a hand to get your attention.
"Ulf! We haven't met, I'm Scott Flint. I do a lot of the busy work around town for the Talons. I can help assemble teams for jobs you may be interested in, though I'll only call on people that are Silver Talons members or associates.
I can also do the reverse if you like, giving you a call when a team is willing to pay extra for a giant to join up with them. Is there anything I can help with?"

You'd like to get Jib Jab some Basic Ranger training and are willing to pay. Flint agrees to set up a meeting today to get it started.

"Anything else I can help you with at the moment?"
Any interesting ruins?
>As a heads up.
>Posting is going to be minimal today, tues and wed due to work.

This post was supposed to go up at 11:52 board time but captcha decided to be a shit.
Any mercs we should look our for or avoid.
Any certain death don't go here areas nearby?
You ask Flint if he's heard anything about interesting ruins being found.

"Not so far, at least not on the surface. I think the dwarves may have stumbled onto a few minor pieces in the more remote caverns and lava tubes that are part of the mantle. You'd think they'd have fully explored the surrounding cave systems by now."

"Are there any mercs I should look our for or avoid?"
"It's less the other mercenaries and more the people hiring them. Not that there aren't some unscrupulous people working as sellswords, there certainly are. Ketil Gunnr and Piteur Wylde are probably the top two in the city to watch out for. They'll try to screw you over with bad contracts, bad pay, or leave you hanging with illegal goods when the guard or paladins arrive."

"If they're so bad why haven't they been arrested?"
"Issues of possession mostly. None of them ever get caught with stolen or illegal goods themselves. The same goes for any snake kin that are hiring, watch out for them."

"Any certain death don't go here areas nearby?"
"The women's quarter of the silver order temple? Ha! No? Not funny? Let's see. Up north of the plains it gets into rough terrain. I guess it's technically a large plateau, a few mountains sure but mostly just rocky with lots of hills. The orcs there are not like we get around here. They're tougher, more brutal, and generally won't conduct prisoner exchanges.
Their capital is called the Palace of Bone."

You've heard that name before. It was mentioned when looking into the necromancer.
"Is it actually made of bone?"
"According to what I've heard? Yes. It's made of the remains of long dead creatures that must have been bigger than whales."

"Dragon, Greater Wyrm, some even say Cyclops skulls."
Before parting ways Flint quietly informs you that a Platinum Run is coming up soon. They'll need reliable people to help escort it. The MRC agents wont be able to tell you the particular day or place for security reasons, just tell them if you're interested.

Jib Jab is dropped off to spend the day starting his Basic Ranger training with one of the Talons people. They'll make sure he gets across town safely at the end of the day.

After some expenses you currently have around 2100 silver. (Yes I have to update the character sheet.)
Did you want to see about getting any arrows enchanted at this time?

Srayagoth says he can enchant up to 5 arrows for you at this time but warns that fire magic of any kind is currently at a premium. Apparent a result of high demand from the forges.
Basic elemental enchantments are only 10-20 silver each depending on their power. Area of effect arrows will be more expensive at 50-100 silver each, and there's a chance they may shatter on impact. Use of steel bolts is recommended for AOE spells.

Most of the available enchantments are quite similar to those available for bows seen above.

Arrow Enchantments
>Earth/stone- Gives arrows greater strength and mass at impact (Incompatible with lightning bow)
15s (Basic)
30s (Improved)

>Lightning- Grants additional lighting damage (Incompatible with druid/stone bow)
17s (Basic)
34s (Improved)
85s (AoE)

>Fire- Grants additional heat/fire damage (Incompatible with ice bow)
33s (Basic)
51s (Improved)
+164s (AoE)
Normal=18s (Basic), 36s (Improved), 90s (AoE)

>Ice- Grants additional ice/cold damage (Incompatible with fire bow)
18s (Basic)
36s (Improved)
90s (AoE)

>Wind- Grants additional wind damage/accuracy in windy conditions
13s (Basic)
26s (Improved)
65s (AoE)

>Spirit- Grants additional non-aligned magic damage
15s (Basic)
30s (Improved)
75s (AoE)

>Piercing- Grants additional armor penetration
12s (Basic)
24s (Improved)
60s (AoE)
2 improved
2 AoE
1 AoE
Pretty curios how this works. Is it some kind of needle grenade?
2x Wind (Improved)
2x Spirit (Improved)
1x Lightning (AoE)
2x Spirit (Improved)
2x Ice (AoE)
1x Piercing (AoE)
5 Basic Earth/stone
1 Lightning AOE Steel Bolt
3 Basic Fire
5 Basic Ice
5 Basic Wind
5 Improved Spirit
5 Improved Piercing
>1 AoE
>Pretty curios how this works.
That was a mistake. I was going down the list a bit quickly and didn't really mean to put that there.
>Is it some kind of needle grenade?
But that is a pretty cool idea.
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Before I forget yet again, your Adamant Poisoned Golden Tree Bow (needs a shorter name) still counts as a bolden tree bow. Because of this it allows you to crit on an 18 or higher.

As for the arrows: I erred on the side of caution and mostly went toward the smaller numbers and ones people agreed on.

1x Lightning S-Bolt (AoE)
2x Ice (AoE)
1x Piercing (AoE)
2x Spirit (Improved)
2x Wind (Improved)
3x Earth/stone (Basic)

>Is it some kind of needle grenade?
So yes needle grenade confirmed. It'll shoot a dozen points of piercing damage in all directions. These should each do as much damage as a normal small person arrow.
Alternatively you could get one that scatters the equivalent of 6 giant arrows but that's less likely to hit something. Unless it's specifically asked for I'm assuming you want the default dozen one.
The list looks good to me.
>needs a shorter name
With the arrow order placed with Srayagoth you decide to look up the other giants and see what they're up to. Stopping by the bar you find out they're out of the city right now but should be back tomorrow. Apparently they were able to finally get some jobs that paid well enough.

Deciding to get a drink while you're here, you take a seat only to overhear the tail end of a conversation.
"-know him anywhere, that's Ulf!"
At the sound of your name you glance around and spot a few humans that look familiar.

"Yes over here! It took us awhile but we finally arrived in the north!"
It's Kossia Skaled whose group you met at the airship gate. He and his compatriots are sitting around a table sharing drinks.

"We heard a giant had cleared the way of a blockade for us between Ivanish and Ballidon, so thanks for that. On the other hand we could have used the excitement. By my word those ox drawn caravans are the slowest things in existence. Horses for us next time if we can get hold of any. Speaking of which, drop us a line if you need some backup on a job. We can certainly use the pay."

"That a new bow?" asks their ranger whose name you've forgotten. "Looks mean as hell."

You're calling the bow "Adabar" for now, explaining that how you got it is a bit complicated and you'll have to share that story another time. You can share a few things that have happened since your arrival though.

One of their number with a shield slung over their back raises a mug.
"Sounds like getting out here early really worked out for you. How are you finding this place?"

>What say?
>How are you finding this place?
Full of opportunity and so far the locals have been mostly nice, If you discount the necromancer, warring tribes, wendigos, rabid animals and brown bears. So all in all pretty nice.

It has been an interesting time. Talk about a few of earlier engagements?
"Full of opportunity, and so far the locals have been mostly nice. Aside from the necromancers, giant spiders, warring orc tribes, rabid beasts, bears and wendigos. Compared to some places in the south it's pretty nice actually."

"The hell is a wendigo?" asks one of their group only to be shushed.

"Sounds like things have been entertaining then," says Kossia. "You know, I once heard of an ancient curse from the east. It goes; may you live in interesting times."

You can certainly appreciate the dangers of such a saying. Since their arrival they've been hearing from other caravans and bar patrons about fighting between the orc tribes. They had also been warned about the rabid animals and to be on the lookout for them.

"The city asked all of us that are new in town and trained in ranger skills to attend one of their meetings. Supposedly they talk about how to deal with the rabid creatures "more effectively," Kal'al shakes his head. "Only just got here and the dwarves are already telling us what to do."

Kossia shakes his head.
"Give it a rest Kal. They probably can't weather livestock losses up here as easily."

The soldier finally introduces himself as Dayer Havashaw.
"Have you run into many of those warring tribes you mentioned?"

You've only had a few instances so far and have been trying your best to avoid stumbling into a full tribe. The one time where you'd failed at that you actually ran into two tribes that were meeting to discuss an alliance. You tell them of your hasty escape and flight into the hinterlands with wolves and goblins close at your heels for several miles straight.

Just as well since rumors among other tribes were that one of those present had convinced ogres to work with them. You could fight an ogre or several orcs but not both at the same time. On the bright side playing keep away with those tribes allowed you to see more of the north and get a lay of the land in those regions.

None of the Luthienite band have fought ogres before but have heard tales. Big hulking brutes, shorter and fatter than giants but tough bastards all the same. One of the party start to ask if it would be fair to make comparison between giants and ogres with humans and dwarves. The others, realising there are far too many dwarves present in the bar, quickly dogpile them to prevent them from finishing.
"Luthien's luck, watch what you're saying!"

[ ] Actually a fair comparison
[ ] You're offended any stone kin would be compared to an ogre
[ ] You're not touching that
>[ ] You're offended any stone kin would be compared to an ogre
>[ ] You're offended any stone kin would be compared to an ogre
Shaking your head you frown in obvious in displeasure.
"Ain't right. I don't like the thought of any stone kin being compared to an ogre."
You lean in slightly and point at the offender.
"Don't do that."

The man nods vigorously promising not to bring up such a topic again. Kossia is quick to get everyone to calm down.
"Alright that's enough. Everybody learned their lesson. I'm sure he won't make that mistake again."

Agreeing there's no point in getting worked up over it further, you share a few more stories while finishing off your drink. The Luthienites hope to see more of you on various jobs. As long as they don't take issue with Jib Jab being there that's okay with you.

The other giants return to town the next day, along with a caravan loaded down with trade goods. Tobacco, hemp, orcish runes, magic items and many other things besides. They also warn you that some orc merchants who came with them are trying to hire mercenaries for the tribes across the river.

"Expect to see those posted in the hiring hall soon enough," Flora warns.

You in turn make sure the other giants are warned about the presence of ogres among one of the tribes. This is met with a mixed response. Cirus is now eager at that thought of fighting an ogre in melee and proving his martial abilities. Argen is unenthusiastic but this was fairly predictable, he'd rather be fighting demons. Flora is the most wary.

"In any fight with ogres we need to play it safe and work as a group. There's aren't many of us giants around here and we can't afford to let them pick us off one by one."

She makes a good point. It might be good to team up with them on any job involving such strong opponents. Cirus grumbles about not wanting to run unless it's absolutely necessary.
"I know we can outrun ogres but guh! I hate doing it!"
Tenn Duskarm still has a few of the previous jobs available when you next visit the hiring hall. Or at least some of the independent ones are similar enough. They're very short length local contracts and you're warned not to get involved unless you're prepared to go through with whatever shady shit they may be up to.

Local Contracts
>Guard Merchandise (IND)
Guard work for unspecified merchandise. (Probably smugglers.)

>Distribution Work (IND)
An odd way of putting it, if these aren't smugglers it's probably a raid on a rival business.

>Strange Activity (PaladinS)
A few settlers have reported strange goings on in their area at night. People arriving at a few farms from the city and leaving with more among their number. The Silver Order has decided to investigate. Given your history Gegor feels you're reliable enough to offer such jobs to you.

>Platinum Run (SLVT)
Your standing with the Silver Talons is now high enough that they're willing to hire you on for a high value mission. Platinum Runs are some of the most sought after assignments as well as the mostly likely ones for criminals to attempt to waylay. Pay will be in gold, not silver. Protect the cargo no matter what. Survival of the escort is of secondary importance.

Long Term Contracts (Weeks)

>Trade Missions (MMRC/IND)
With the yearly slow caravans now in town additional trade missions are being undertaken with the local tribes. Pay is 2 gold per week, with a 1 week minimum. Jobs of this type will be available through the rest of the season.

>A distant delivery (PaladinS)
A Paladin from the south needs to deliver a package to the distant wilds of the north. They're willing to pay an astounding 20 gold for a month long contract. That's more than double the pay of regular work.

>A Strong Sword Arm (IND/Tribal)
Much as predicted what had been a cold war between the black bear clans is beginning to escalate. Chief Urag's contacts in the city have begun to offer contracts for good fighters. The city is still trying to remain neutral in the war but can't block legal filed contracts. Expect pay to be offered in less conventional means. Anything from orcish runes, trade goods or perhaps even slaves captured from opposing tribes.

>Ogre Village
Scouts have located what would appear to be an entire village of Ogres in the Black Hills. A diplomatic party is being prepared and there have been requests for an escort able to handle themselves. This will probably mean hiring most if not all of the local giants.
Flora is likely aware of this mission. Talk to her first if you are intent on signing up.
NOTE: This mission will be available for some time.
I have to step out for an hour or so unfortunately. Decide what missions you're most interested in.
>>Platinum Run (SLVT)
And I'm back.

>Decide what missions you're most interested in.
There are prospector missions too of course. Additionally if there is any sort of mission you'd be more interested in I'm open to suggestions. There aren't any Titan metal prospecting missions or searches for ruins just yet but they're bound to be available eventually. If you make enough money off one of the better paying jobs you could in theory help kick start such an expedition earlier with a bit of your own money.
Okay I guess we're going with the Platinum Run.

After signing up you're given orders to meet in the assembly area the following day. Jib Jab has finished some of his training by then and is practicing some of his skills. He has a ways to go yet but he appreciates the added knowledge.

When you show up next to the hiring hall the only ones you recognise are Neia, Orlan and Tara. You're somewhat surprised that Tim isn't there considering he is usually nearby whenever the Centaur is present.

"He's off with the Paladins investigating some homesteads," Neia tells you, sounding as terse as usual.

Most of the others are made up of members of the Guard along with a couple from the Air Corps Scout Division. The last two are easily distinguished by their horizon blue overcoats. You don't see any dedicated healers.

Scott Flint arrives with another Talons soldier, both wearing similar styles of brigandines and sallet helmets with company markings. He calls together those of you hired through the company.
"Listen up. The guards and Scouts that are with us already know the drill. For those of you new to this, we'll be heading out to a meeting point just outside of visual range of the city. Daral Riordan with the guard will be making runs out to us with a number of fake wagons. They'll do a few of these trips until we get the real one, and then some after. Once we get ours we'll escort it out to where it needs to go and wait for an airship to come in from the south.
Only the scout division people know the actual pickup location. We get there, hold until the airship arrives, then trade our cargo for the payment they're dropping off. Be on the lookout for anyone or anything that looks out of place.
If anyone attempts to intercept the fake wagons the city will deal with them. Questions?"
Can't think of any
As the scouts rally the group and depart the assembly field, Flint seems surprised you're heading for the east gate. Whatever it takes to keep the bandits off balance you suppose. Once a safe distance from the walls you ask the officer a question.

"Are you not worried about the lack of a dedicated healer?"
"The temples don't like sending clerics on these missions because bandits will go out of their way to overkill them. There will be some potions in the cart and I always pack at least two."

Once the group stops at the first rally point behind a tree line a few among the group take a moment for idle chatter. Nothing too loud, the scouts are listening for the rattle of approaching wagons.

"You actually look properly equipped now," Tara says to Jib Jab.
The kobold raises his hand crossbow.
"Shot chasing wolf in eye."
"So you're actually contributing now? That's good, we're going to need everyone if we're attacked."

That's something you have to wonder about with all of this secrecy and trick wagons.
"What are the odds of someone catching us?"
"I've been on two of these jobs before and only been hit once. That time we were attacked was because the load was too heavy and it damaged the wagon."

When the proper wagon does arrive, having looped around to your position on a side road from the north gate, it's getting close to dusk. Tara is not happy about this as it means at least half of the team wont be able to see terribly well. You're now extremely glad to have picked up that amulet letting you see in the dark.

Those from the scout division have planned for this. They're carrying quick light torches capable of illuminating a wide area if there's a fight. In addition to those they have dimmer red light emitting magic torches. They should be enough to navigate by without giving away your position. As the sun sets it isn't long before the rest of the group needs them.

"Why dont airships simply land in one of the fields next to the city? Wouldn't they have protection from the garrison and siege weapons on the walls?"

Orlan answers this. "There are approximately ten different places I can think of to shoot down a small cargo airship from in the city. Taller buildings, temple rooftops. They're excellent vantage points and would allow the attacker to simply disappear, escaping into the crowds.
Then the city would be stuck with a damaged airship in the fields we have no way to repair."

There aren't enough places to change horses to allow a dash for the airship gate with fast wagons either. That doesn't leave a lot of options. Really it would make sense to simply send a battleship to make the pickup, at least that would have the capability of defending itself.
"I agree with you but that part is politics."

Scott makes a hand signal and Tara tells all of you to be quiet. You've arrived in a large clearing slightly to the north of due east from the city. Tara and one of the scouts are signaled to do a sweep of the field. When they don't find anything the group rolls out into the middle

Most dismount, keeping the horses behind the two wagons where they'll be out of the way if you need to bolt. Dwarves manning the wagons ready shields but stay in their seats. The second scout sets up the red torches so that their light is directed skyward. From then on it's a matter of waiting.

Close to half of an hour later the scouts are getting nervous. The airship is running late. Finally one of the half-elves among the guards spot a dark object in the southern sky as it eclipses stars. Once pointed out you can see it too. It begins to slow while approaching the field.

"I think they have engine damage," one of the scouts comments.
That would explain why they're late.

Roll 1d100 perception.
Rolled 5 (1d100)

Rolled 22 (1d100)

Rolled 12 (1d100)

You keep your eyes mostly to the tree line, watching for any signs of approaching hostiles. This delay hasn't exactly been helpful in terms of preventing others from finding you. So far nothing, as the airship continues its descent everything seems to be going fine.

Then you hear the distinctive sound of incoming arrows. Neia screams in pain and you see one of the guards hit along with a horse with the second wagon. Both air corps scouts throw themselves to the ground avoiding a few shots. Seeing this Jib Jab uses his rope to swing down from your shoulder, now looking for better cover.

Brief seconds later another volley pelts the guards near the second wagon as they attempt to take cover. Glancing around frantically you can't see anything, even with your new night vision amulet. Is it broken?
"Where are they coming from?!" you shout.

One of the scouts point skyward.
"Harpies! They hitched a ride on the airship!"

As you try to spot the birds in the night sky one of them launches what looks to be a burning arrow skyward. It explodes into hundreds of bright white sparks and sparkles, clearly marking your location to anyone in the area. With the extra illumination a few of the others begin firing back with their bows but they dont have the range.

"Feathered whores! Come down here and give us a proper fight!" one of the wagon guards shouts.

Would you care to use any of your newly acquired enchanted arrows to engage the harpies?

25x Wood arrow
2x Steel Bolt
1x Lightning S-Bolt (AoE)
2x Ice (AoE)
1x Piercing (AoE)
2x Spirit (Improved)
2x Wind (Improved)
3x Earth/stone (Basic)
>Wood arrow
Situation seems bad for recovering the arrows afterwards
If there is a good target for an AoE arrow, try using one
Earth stone should be good for grounding them, but standard arrows lodged in a harpy might be just as good for keep them out of the air
I'm assuming you dont want to use the lightning steel bolt based on the comment about recovery.

Stick to conventional mostly. If there's an opportunity use Ice/Piercing (AoE)?
Sound good? If so roll 2d20
Rolled 16, 14 = 30 (2d20)

Rolled 8, 11 = 19 (2d20)

Aoe to thin the herd.
Rolled 2, 7 = 9 (2d20)

Use the ice aoe i doubt they are too heavily armoured
Though you've done some practice with your new bow shooting at a flying target is something else entirely. The quickly fading sparks from their signal arrow provide some light to help spot them but wont for long. Fortunately with your new amulet they likely wont expect you to still be able to track them.

The first two arrows miss as you gauge the height and distance. None of the other archers have the range necessary to hit the bird people. The approaching bulk of the descending airship is something you also need to watch out for. Even with the fighting going on the crew seem determined to make the exchange.

Finally lined up, you manage a hit on one of the attackers. They don't immediately plummet but it looks like they've been forced into what might be an unrecoverable dive. There certainly isn't much flapping going on.

Despite their height and the increasing engine noise of the airship you can clearly make out remaining harpies screeching at you. Arrows begin to fall in your general area not in ones and twos but in groups. They must be going multi shots and hoping to wear you down with multiple hits. Unfortunately for them the extra arrows are disrupting their aim. Only a few hit you and those either glance off your armor or poke partway through the thicker sections of your armor. Nothing serious but enough to encourage you to relocate.

One of the harpies swoops lower, angling in toward one of the airship engines and drawing a glowing arrow.

"By the stone, get thee gone bird folk!" you shout.
Drawing one of your new ice arrows you let loose, the bolt punching harmlessly through one of its wings before it finally goes off. You think it was about to start mocking you over the missed shot, because as the magic freezes nearly that entire wing it lets loose a a shrill cry that starts off like laughter. It's banshee like scream continues as it spirals towards the ground, flapping madly with the remaining wing. There isn't time to watch the landing.

"The other harpy is legging it! Wing-ing it, whatever." Tara reports, before shouting at you to come help her.
Rushing over you find Neia down on the ground with an arrow embedded nearly to the fletching in her lower half. The dwarf tells you to hold her still then rushes to the wagon to grab a potion. When she returns the ranger sets about extracting the arrow which turns out to be a bloody and difficult job thanks to its barbed head.
"You better be less stubborn about drinking than a damned horse or we're going to have to leave you to your fate out here."
Against the centaur's protests the contents of the potion bottle is forced down her throat. Despite choking and sputtering flesh knits together sealing the arrow wound.

"Get the clerics to check for complications when we get back, we have to go!"
Following the dwarf's pointing hand you spot light from torches to the west. They're closing quickly, probably riders on horseback.

By now the airship has halted in place. Ropes quickly lower some crates with air corps markings. Checking one Flint declares them good and the wagon crews begin lashing their own crates to the lowered ropes. The whole operation takes only a matter of minutes. As soon as the crates from the city are aboard the ships engines spin up and its bow points skyward.

While loading has been going on a replacement horse has been swapped out to replace one of those hitched to the wagon that had been shot. The wounded soldier, mostly healed thanks to a potion, will ride in the back of the second wagon.

As the wagons start to move Scott shouts to get everyone's attention.
"Okay, we've got two wagons full of gold to get back to the city and a shit ton of hostiles between us and them. Options?"

Orlan has enough earth magic that he could fortify a position to hold until daybreak. Or alternatively block roads behind you to slow pursuit. You have some AoE arrows left. It's not a lot but you could potentially inflict enough losses on the enemy to drive them off.

If you're not looking for a frontal attack that leaves going north or south until you reach larger roads leading to the city. North is less settled. There would be the potential for more choke points that your mage could cut off with his earth magic. At the same time that would give you less options if they have reinforcements.
Going South you could potentially reach the east (or more accurately south east) road. It's flatter and wider open letting the group ride full out for the city. It also means little to no cover. You're going to be spotted easily by that last harpy.

Between coughs Neia says it might be possible to lose them in the heavier woods to the east. Most of the guards are against this.
"No way, that's orc territory."
The Stag Horn Clans are technically allied to the city...

[ ] Find a homestead or other location to fortify
[ ] Frontal attack, punch through them
[ ] Flee North (less settled, more cover)
[ ] Flee South (open, better roads, less cover)
[ ] Go east, into Stag Horn territory
[ ] Write-in
>[ ] Flee North (less settled, more cover)
"North!" you shout. Orlan proved he could put up earth barriers quickly enough in your escape from the orc tribes to the east. This should be similar enough.

Tara and the air corps scouts ride off ahead to find the best route, while the drivers of the wagons give their horses enough of a whipping to urge them onward. You scoop up Jib Jab and place him on one of the wagons to help cover them if anyone gets close.

One problem is quickly apparent. The remaining harpy is giving away your movements and staying well away from anything approaching your bow range. They even go so far as to drop an illumination flare like those sometimes used by the army. In the harsh light of the flare you can see the bulk of the airship in the distance. Now safely away it's driving hard south.

Speeding across fields and between sections of forest the scouts plot a path as fast as the carts dare go. A few times the procession has to slow to deal with navigating a bend to get onto a road. Torches from the pursuing riders gain with each such incident. Occasionally you fire an arrow into where you guess them to be but it's impossible to tell through the trees if you'd landed any hits.

Any sort of gap the group passes through, be it a fence, a bend in a road, a path through a thicket, Orlan fills with raised earth. It does seem to be slowing some of the pursuit and is buying time for the wagons to get farther away. Every time there's a straightaway or open area that cant be blocked the pursuers get closer. On several occasions when the mage has blocked their path they've raced to the next lane or field to find an alternative route.

"That damn harpy is helping them out an awful lot!" Scott gripes. "Ulf, there's no way you can hit it is there?"
"No, I've tried. My bow would need a speed or force enchantment to hit it that high up."
Privately you're doubtful even that would be of much help at this point.

As if to further illustrate the bird's ability to annoy you a reddish pinprick of light flashes down from above. It causes a fireball to erupt in gap in the woods the scouts and wagons were aiming for. The horses immediately cry out in fear, bringing the wagons to a halt. Though most leaves in the area are wet with dew there was enough magic in the arrow to set what little ground cover is present on fire. It might still be minor enough to charge through it though.

[ ] "Charge through!"
[ ] Ice arrow, AoE
[ ] Don't stop, head for the next road
>[ ] Ice arrow, AoE
Not waiting for the others to figure out how best to deal with the flames, you pull out your remaining ice arrow and launch it towards roughly the same spot the fireball had hit. On impact the magic contained in the arrow is let loose, snap freezing the are and snuffing out most of the flames.

"Go! Move!" Scott shouts.

Once everyone else is through you make sure to grab the spent enchanted arrow. In the time it takes to get the wagons rolling again the pursuing raiders have gained a great deal of ground. You can actually make out individual riders before Orlan raises another earthen barrier into place. Having seen you now there are quite a few shouts and whooping from them despite having to deal with yet another obstruction.

A few arrows come flying over the barrier, hitting you in the legs and one in the arm. The one near the back of your knee hurts quite a bit but you're still moving. Honestly the one to your right forearm hurts less but is more concerning. It interferes with drawing your bow until you take the time to rip it from your armor.

Rounding a turn in the road as quick as they can one of the wagons tip up on two wheels. The driver manages to get it under control although it does slow them down, forcing Jib Jab's wagon to pass them. With all of these minor roads and little to no moonlight to work with your sense of direction is understandably getting a bit mixed up. Fortunately you soon find yourselves on familiar ground. One of the main roads back to the city.

"This is it!" Tara calls from ahead. "It's a straight shot to the city from here! Drive those wagons!"

The harpy isn't done following yet though. It drops two more flares out ahead of you. Anyone within eye shot of silver mantle will know you're making for the city now.

Scott shakes his fist at the sky in anger.
"I swear if we catch that bird I'm going to have it stuffed and mounted!"

This gets a swift response from one of the guards.
"Hah! Do you mean on your co-"

The other riders are still too close for comfort and on this wider road Orlan will have a harder time making barriers large enough to stop them. Without those it's just a matter of time until they overtake you.

"A delaying action might be wise," Neia suggests.

"I'm open to ideas on how that would work!" Scott is quick to answer.

There's open road ahead for fifteen kilometers. Plenty of fields broken up by the occasional tree line and thicket left by the farmers. More trees than the southern route would have left you with but still not a lot of cover for this last leg.
Burning out, it's that time of day.

Neia eventually answers.
"We have our archers at the rear continue to trade arrows and hope for the best. Or block the road at one of the tree lines by having enough of our people hang back there to slow them down."

Tara is against this plan as the remaining escort will be greatly weakened. Any attackers that get through will have a much easier time.

>Other suggestions?
>block the road
Whether they attempt to fight or bypass, they'll be delayed and have to worry about enemies behind them
Can Orlan make a large hole in the road? Instead raising an earth wall, sink the earth instead? We could attempt to delay with a pit while continuing with arrow harassment as we fall back.
maybe he can make smaller ankle breakers, make walls small enough that they might not see them in the low light and hope the horses trip or break a leg. alternately in the same vain small holes dotted around could do the same. if this ain't possible and/or time allows leave one person behind to set up a rope across the road and then hide or get out of there on their own.
>Can Orlan make a large hole in the road? Instead raising an earth wall, sink the earth instead? We could attempt to delay with a pit while continuing with arrow harassment as we fall back.
My initial reaction was hey that's a good idea. Then I went, wait horses can jump. Turns out they can jump rather far.
Anywhere from 3.6m (12 ft) to maximum of 8.4 metres (28 ft). I had no idea. But yeah, combine a trench with a wall backing it and that could work.

Or alternatively cattle guards which I forgot were a thing.
Anything else, or are these good?

[ ] Block road with soldiers and barriers, leave a gap to give them hope
[ ] Trench + Barrier at each tree tine
[ ] Randomly located minefields of small holes and low barriers
[ ] Hidden cattle guards at each tree tine
>[ ] Trench + Barrier at each tree tine
A good list of options. Anything to slow them down and change it up from just walls.
I'll second this.

Sadly time to get some sleep.
Roll 2d100
Rolled 77, 18 = 95 (2d100)

Rolled 13, 82 = 95 (2d100)

"Orlan can you combine a trench with a barrier?"

"Yes, that might even make things easier. Now we'll just need to get to the next tree line in time."

Neia calls out for him to wait. "Make the barrier low enough for their horses to jump across but high enough they cant see the trench behind it."

Racing ahead Orlan gets to work raising the barrier and trench on half of the road then waits until the rest of you are past before finishing it. He's cutting it close and arrows are raining down from your pursuers. The mage takes a few hits to his armor but it doesn't look like he's been injured too badly. You launch a few arrows as covering fire while he catches up.

"And Tim bet 10 pieces... that casting a stoneskin spell on myself wouldn't be necessary."
The mage gasps out, clearly in some pain.

You're hit by more arrows yourself. Another in the lower leg while two more are blocked by your reinforced bracer. Nothing hard enough to impede your movement which is your main concern right now.

The first few riders leap the barrier only to find themselves landing in the much deeper gap of the trench. Amazingly two of them actually make it over the trench, although just barely. Things become much worse for the second wave. Quite a few of them land on their allies throwing riders and horses sprawling to the ground. It's created a real mess.

The two riders that race on after you soon realise they're the only targets on the field. Arrow fire from you and purple bolts of energy from Orlan's staff soon convince them to fall back until more allies can arrive.

Ahead you spot the fall of another fire arrow that must be from the harpy. It hits the second wagon igniting its cloth covering. You hear some guards shouting to stop the wagon and others, such as Scott, yelling not to stop. Jib Jab chatters something you cant make out, then the wagon covering comes loose and flies off the back. It seems he cut it loose. He and the other guard on the wagon now work to slap out the remaining flames with anything at hand.

"Riders ahead!" you hear the scouts call.

Pouring on the speed you sprint past the wagons to get a clear line of fire. Before you can draw you spot the glint of uncovered plate armor. Whoever it is has no interest is concealment. It isn't long before someone figures out who they are.
"City guard. That must be Riordan!"

Sure enough you spot the city pennant flying from some of their spears. Lit by the torches or lanterns a few are carrying, it's highly unlikely these are anyone faking it. You're not out yet though. A few riders sweep in from the south and some that avoided the trench wall form up to make another attempt.

Orlan doesn't think he can make another wall and trench that big. After all of the casting he's been doing tonight he doesn't have much more left in him. You're also starting to run out of conventional arrows to waste. Should the mage put down additional ranged covering fire with his staff, or mine the road with small holes and other obstructions?
[ ] Have Orlan put down additional ranged covering fire with his staff
[ ] Have him mine the road with small holes and other obstructions
[ ] Write-in
>[ ] Have him mine the road with small holes and other obstructions
"Mine the road," you tell him.

If even one or two horses get caught up in the holes left by the mage it should serve to slow them down. While that's happening you, Tara, one of the scouts and even Jib Jab take aim at the riders coming at you from the south. At least one of them has readied a glowing sword while charging in, so it would be best to keep them at range.

Roll 4d20
Rolled 14, 3, 1, 18 = 36 (4d20)

The riders coming in from the south scatter as a result of your arrow fire, allowing their horses to evade most of your arrows. The riders themselves do what they can to duck, weave or block. The one with the magic sword even manages to deflect one of your arrows that would have otherwise killed them.

When they get closer Jib Jab stops taking cover long enough to shoot one of the horses. This startles it enough to throw the rider, though it looks like both might survive. When the sword wielder again manages to avoid one of your arrows you simply give up and follow Jib Jab's example, firing into their horse. Rather than simply throwing the rider clear the sudden drop of the horse launches your opponent forward nearly two dozen feet. Crashing to the tall grass their body continues to tumble until stopped by the roadbed.

The others haven't killed their targets but after seeing two of their compatriots downed those coming in from the south change course and pull back. You're stuck by another volley of arrows from those behind you but this more appears to be parting shots. At least two of the horses have been wounded by the trip mines and the rest are now avoiding the road entirely.
With their interception group foiled and more city guard ahead any pursuers still capable of movement soon turn and retreat. A few may even attempt to help recover those that got caught in the trench further back.

Ahead the riders that have come out from the city turn out to not be Riordan's men, but they are from the guard. The others recognise their leader as the captain of the light horse, Rorik Bannerman, Riordan's nominal superior. He waves the group past and has his group take up the rear.

"Some of them are down or wounded." Tara shouts to the new arrival. "We could capture them!"

"The cargo is the priority." The captain answers. "Only once it's secure will we look at pursuing the brigands. Besides, many of you look more like pincushions right now."

Glancing down he's not wrong. Your bracer is riddled with more arrows and another one buried in your thigh is starting to make running more than a little uncomfortable. A scrape along the side of your head is also beginning to make itself felt.

Ammunition wise the only arrows left in your quiver are enchanted ones, the steel bolts and a few rough arrows you'd carved when out in the wilds. Your ready arrows are effectively depleted until you get back to the city.

Do you want to finish the run back to the city? Or will you risk trying to recover prisoners?
>finish the run
Racing to the city gates the group finds that there are quite a few people awake for this time of night. The flares and fireworks that had been lighting up the night sky must have been visible even from this far away. Lanterns along many of the streets have been lit and at the top of the hill there are groups of people around the main square. There is soon plenty of talk going around about the partly burnt wagon and the Giant stuck with handfuls of arrows.

Both wagons are led through the center of town, turning onto one of the smaller lanes that cuts between the holding and barracks areas. Eventually you arrive at a set of heavily armored doors allowing entrance into one of the buildings in the financial district. A squad of well armed dwarves soon emerge and help the drivers in unloading the crates. The entire operation is completed in minutes and the doors slam shut once more.

Those of you who are wounded are directed to the western gate to see healers there. Apparently they don't want to tie down healers at the north and east gates in case any suspects turn themselves in. Your pay will likely be with the MMRC sometime after noon.
Rorik stays with the group until until all of you reach the healers then heads back inside.

There are plenty of minor injuries to treat among the party, mostly arrow wounds that didn't hit anything vital. The guard who was taken out early on was saved thanks to a potion but the clerics expect it will take them a bit to fully heal him. It's much the same with Neia. She'll need time for them to fix any internal problems resulting from the unreliable healing the potion caused.

"Are potions that worthless?" you have to wonder. The siege units hardly ever got to see things like that, they were mostly reserved for the front line fighters.

One of the older guards turns to answer your question.
"No they're fairly useful, especially in triage or emergency situations when there aren't enough healers. They'll generally keep you alive, that's the important part. If you've been shot through the guts that gets messy. Internal bleeding and risk of infection is the killer then. If you can make those go away for hours, days, even weeks then so what if you've got a few bits that aren't working quite as they should until you see a cleric."

Orlan points out there are stronger potions that can do a better job but they're far more expensive. There are also things like restoration potions that can deal with disease, a host of other minor problems, and in theory take a couple of years wear and tear off the body. Of course they all cost a great deal of coin due to the needed magic.

Tara walks over to you after talking to a few others.
"Who else is interested in forming a hunting party?"

Scott raises his hand but says he'll be going about it a different way.
"This run reminded me why I stay in the office. I'll put up bounties for those harpy archers and see if I can look up any of the others from records at the hiring hall."
Do you want to help search for some of those you just fought? Odds are good those two harpies you shot aren't going anywhere provided they're still alive. Unless their friend can convince their local contacts to recover them that is.

Just as importantly should you wait until morning when there may be more people available to team up with from the hiring hall? If you wanted to go right away all you'd really need to do is pick up a bundle of arrows from your stockpile.

[ ] Set out with whoever you can scrape together now
[ ] Wait until morning to assemble a larger party
[ ] Leave it to the bounty hunters
I apparently have to go pick up some things for relatives that are currently quarantined before the stores here go into lockdown yet again. I'll be back as soon as I can.
>[ ] Wait until morning to assemble a larger party
>Leave it to the bounty hunters
Even with the night vision amulet you'd rather wait until morning. At least that way you'll be able to form a larger party. Also if Orlan is coming along he won't be completely exhausted that way. Neia is barred from going with you on orders from the clerics.

Tara cracks her knuckles.
"Fine, rest up then. I can't sleep right now so I'll get a bit of work done to make things easier in the morning."

Heading over to the south side of the city you pick up a batch of arrows from your stockpile. You're depleting them far more quickly than the ballista crews are with their practice fire. The AoE ice arrow you recovered is still in one piece but the enchantment hasn't recovered from its last use yet. Supposedly if you give it a full day it should be usable again.

That leaves you with improved, spirit and wind damage ones, along with the more basic earth/stone arrows. That and your AoE lightning steel bolt. It's fortunate you waited until morning as Jib Jab was running low on bolts for his hand crossbow as well.

"You're getting pretty good with that thing."
"Wait until enemy close, then shoot."

Whatever works. And his quick thinking helped keep that wagon from burning a lot worse. Eventually he's going to have to start getting paid at regular rates rather than being covered under your own. Of course by that point it'll be up to him whether or not to keep working with you or strike out on his own as a mercenary.

Have you really been keeping him as a slave, or training a working partner or apprentice? The answer maybe isn't a thing you can pin down right now.

By dawn you've managed to grab a couple of hours sleep before going looking for reinforcements to take along. Tara has scared up another dwarf by the name of Garn Ironmane. Armed with a crossbow and a mace, he seems more of a mixed brawler. The rest of the Talons are busy with other jobs and there are very few people up yet from the other companies.

Ferith and Argigoth are still busy helping out the paladins with whatever they're investigating. Tara is holding off on waking Orlan until it's time to set out.

"We could use a few more bodies. Four -five if you count the kobold- wouldn't be bad for this kind of work if we were keeping quiet. A bit harder with you here Ulf."

The ranchers like Aman Rosales and Trilah Lylth might be useful to have along as they have their own horses. Then there's Kossia Skaled and his band. Tara thinks she could find horses for them temporarily, which would certainly bulk up the party. That might be a bad thing in this case as any bounty will have to be split rather than pay for a job.

[ ] This party is fine
[ ] Recruit some of the ranchers
[ ] Recruit Kossia Skaled & crew
Or, you know, not too late to call it off.
>[ ] Recruit Kossia Skaled & crew
>[ ] Recruit Kossia Skaled & crew
strengthen those social links. the extra help could shorten time spent or lead to more bounties found, offsetting the effects of having to spilt more ways. or it could just be less money.
Asking at the bar for Skaled and his team, a local courier runs and gets them for you. When they arrive the human flips the delivery boy a silver piece.
"Thanks kid."

A quick explanation later and you're back outside the hiring hall. Scott has loaned Tara some of the Talons remaining horses, only asking that they come back in one piece. Though grateful for the extra support she remains somewhat wary.

"Any chance you fellows were gallivanting about east of the city last night?"
"We saw some fireworks!" Dayer Havashaw helpfully answers.

Kossia sighs at the unhelpful answer given by his compatriot.
"We were in or near the city last night. We saw some of the light show going on in the sky, as well as Ulf and the convoy when you came through the city. None of our people have been here long enough to start trouble."
"Except the bar fight in the south end." Kal'al Indus points out.
"Yeah okay, except the bar fight."

Once out the gates you see a wagon rolling out along with a group of workers and guards. The wagon has plenty of shovels, rakes and pick axes in the back, along with a few crates heaped with gravel. They must be planning to repair the road. Orlan tries to make sure his hood is adequately concealing him. Maybe the work crews wouldn't be as forgiving towards someone of his background? Who knows.

Tara gets everyone's attention.
"What should be our priority? There were plenty of hostiles last night and we have two rangers so we could split up a bit."

Tracks could lead all over the countryside but might point to where the attackers came from or fled to. Either could be useful. The trench caught a number of enemies and may have even killed some when the second group came over. There could be left over bodies of assailants or items left with the horses.
Then there's the harpies. One may have escaped but it's questionable if one could carry another to safety. Even a body could be worth a payout by Scott, but odds are they came with the airship and wouldn't have many connections to local operations. Then again someone worked out signals for them to use like the flares and fireworks.

[ ] Tracks
[ ] Trench
[ ] Harpies
[ ] Harpies
One group after the harpies
[ ] Tracks
One group look for tracks, if they find a hideout double back, don't engage.

I doubt they left any valuables by the trench as the survivors would probably go back that way. The magic sword would have been a great get but i doubt they would leave that behind.
supporting: >>4701984
One group should look for tracks while the other investigates the harpies. Tara thinks it's not a bad idea and suggests splitting the party up in such a way that enough locals are in each group to not get lost.
"Ulf, you go with the group looking into the harpies. The last thing we want is for any of the riders from last night seeing you from two fields over while we're following trails."

She makes a good point, and if any of the harpies get airborne again you're one of the few who can actually hit them. You, Garn, Kossia and Kal'al split off while the rest go with Tara and Orlan. In your case it's faster to head due east, following the path the wagons originally used to reach the rendezvous point. The other group heads off north east along the somewhat damaged main road.

"You were stuck through with a piss load of arrows last night," the dwarf Garn observes.
"Yes. It was very annoying."
"That didn't slow you down none?"

A few were starting to. If they'd continued to poke holes in your left leg eventually they might have wrecked your mobility enough to get you to halt and act as a rear guard. That or piss you off so much that you'd fly into an uncontrollable range. Honestly you're not sure which would have been worse.

"Are all giants Berzerkers then?" Kossia asks.
"Maybe," you answer. "I have seen human Berzerkers in the south but they seemed more focused than a giant would be when enraged. I likely wouldn't take the time to aim properly in such a state."
"You're saying you'd be less dangerous?"
"For anyone far away maybe. Not anyone nearby."

Kal'al looks to Kossia.
"You know I think I like this giant, he makes good points."

You ask Garn what his story is.
"Used to be in tunnel scouting before they sent me topside. Learned that things need to be killed farther away up here usually."
That's all he's willing to share at the moment so you press on toward your objective.

It takes less time than you expected to reach the field where the airship arrived last night. You point out roughly the last directions you saw the two harpies fall and Kal'al gets to work.
"Try not to trample the site anymore than everybody did last night. This place is a mess with prints."

You and Garn look to Kossia who assures you his tracker is good at his job. At Jib Jab's insistence you let the novice tracker help as best he can.

To the east Kal'al finds signs of where the first harpy landed. Perhaps impacted is more accurate, having crashed down through conifers, leaving plenty of blood behind. Despite this their body gone. Kal'al admits to knowing very little about harpies but thinks this one lost a lot of blood.
The trees are large enough with adequate open space beneath the canopy to the east that they could have escaped into orc territory.

Jib Jab's screeching brings the rest of you running. He's holding an enchanted arrow aloft -not one of yours- and pointing to the south west. Kal'al helps look around eventually locating odd tracks through some tall grass and brush. He thinks it must have been dragging the wing your ice arrow froze. There isn't any blood he can see but Jib Jab seems to smell something from the arrow.

As he continues to move around erratically you hear the faint hiss of an arrow just as one embeds itself in the ground next to the kobold. This sends Jib Jab scrambling for cover and the rest of you draw weapons, moving behind nearby trees while looking for the source.

Eventually it reveals itself with a somewhat familiar shrill screaming coming from about halfway up a spruce tree.
"Celaeno's tits! Why can't you stupid lizards ever take a hint and buzz off!"

Though you still can't see it, the group has a fairly good idea where it's hiding.

>What say?
Let the trackers get a better bead on the target, aim upwards ready to knock it out of the sky.
get a wind arrow ready and tell her to show herself (after everone else gets into position)
You, Garn and Kal'al ready your bows and take aim at the rough location the voice came from. For some added punch you make sure to use one of the improved wind arrows. If the harpy takes wing they'll soon regret it.

Kossia takes his backpack off, putting it over his head as an improvised shield. Then makes his way to the base of the tree, moving from cover to cover, rarely staying out in the open for long. After a quick glance up through the branches he retreats back to another tree. He points at the one you're all aiming at and nods that the target is there.

"Show yourself!" you demand.

After brief delay the harpy eventually shouts back an answer.
"Why should I?"
"Just do it." Garn replies.

When there's no response Kossia asks the rest of you how flammable these trees are here in the north.
"Okay, okay!"
After some muffled grunting the bird person sticks their head out through some of the needle covered branches.
"Bird of prey residence, I'm sorry we're only accepting clerics at this time. Get it? Because Clerics pray? ...tough crowd."

"Drop your weapons and get down from the tree." Garn calmly instructs.
The harpy frowns at this.
"I can't get down from the tree."
"And why is that?" you ask.
"You know damn well why giant! Cursed walking artillery... beast... thing!"

>Your orders?
"You can come down or we'll have him throw a tree."
try to find out if they are too injured to get down on their own, if to threaten to take the tree down
"Unless you're saying you're too injured to get down on your own I'm going to knock that tree down with another tree."
You begin testing your current cover to see how easily it could be uprooted.

"No! I mean, yes! You giant bastard, I can't fly!"
"Bow and arrows on the ground and you live." Garn reiterates.

"Alright fine, but you promised I get to live. You all heard him right? Right?"
"Who?" Kal'al asks, doing his best impression of an owl.

The harpy strings together more expletives aimed at the ranger than you're familiar with but drops their bow. Stowing your own weapon while the others provide cover, you step forward and retrieve the bird person. You need to bend aside branches to get at their perch but soon enough you place them on the ground where the others can secure them to prevent escape.

Garn confirms that the harpy's left wing has enough frost bite to render it useless. Maybe not enough to kill, but they wouldn't last long out here unless managing to reach a homestead. Once tied up the bird lady is secured to the dwarf's horse.

"Where are the others?" you ask. "Where were you supposed to meet up?"
"Wait, you mean Janet's not dead? Thought for sure that fall would have killed her. If you haven't hit him already you'll never catch my brother."
She seems quite happy to boast about this last bit.

Did you want to return to the city, try to link up with the others or search farther east in the hopes of finding "Janet?"
Return to the city.
>search farther east in the hopes of finding "Janet?"
Resuming tomorrow.

Give an attempt to find this "Janet" since they were forced into an unrecoverable dive. Whether it was an act to get away. Or we actually got them good. Either we find a body or nothing at all.
>search farther east
Roll 2d100 for the search to the east.
Rolled 28, 12 = 40 (2d100)

Rolled 42, 10 = 52 (2d100)

Rolled 22, 34 = 56 (2d100)

Kal'al and Jib Jab recover the bow and arrows dropped by your captive who still refuses to give their name at this point. A few of them are enchanted, but as they're too large for Jib Jab's hand crossbow or your own the human ranger hangs onto them.

"Don't lose those, we may need them as evidence," Garn tells him.
"Some enchanters mark their work so it might be possible to trace their origin. Could net us a few silver."

Kal'al looks over one of them.
"I'd say the arrows are worth at least a few silver just by being enchanted."

You point out the fire ones especially are highly sought after right now. Kossia mentions that as much as he likes a good conversation there's work to be done for the rangers. Jib Jab though determined is unable to find any kind of trail. Kal'al eventually locates signs of the other harpy's passing. Marks on tree branches accompanied by a bit of blood. He hands it off to the kobold to confirm.

"They definitely headed farther east."

Your captive lets out a shrieking call.
"Janet! If you're dying out here say something so they can patch you up at least!"

Garn is clearly trying to decide if he should shut up the prisoner to prevent them from giving away your position. The only reason he hasn't you suspect is on the off chance Janet actually responds.

The rangers find some remains of bandages most of a mile later. They're soaked through with blood and have bits of fletching from your arrows stuck to them.

It's well past noon when the last signs of your quarry are found. More marks and blood, but far less. An hour later with no additional signs found, you're on the verge of giving up when you spot an orc patrol. Garn confirms them as being from the friendly Stag Horn Clans but still suggests caution.

Calling out to them in orcish he asks a few questions. They respond in kind but don't seem like they're going to help much, continuing on their patrol south.

"Good news, bad news time. Good news is some of their people did bring a harpy in this morning, it should still be there. Bad news, it traded supplies for healing so it could fly off at any time. We also can't just start firing arrows inside their camp if we show up and it decides to fly away. They don't appreciate people starting shit with trading partners."

Even if your prisoner were gagged you'd quickly stand out if approaching the tribe. It's also questionable if the orcs would move to collect on the bounty of a paying guest they've offered hospitality to.

"Any chance we could set an ambush for when this Janet leaves?" Kal'al asks.
Kossia is already shaking his head before Garn answers in the negative.
"Orcs find you laying an ambush of any kind near their camp they'll make you regret it, treaty or no."
It might be worth giving this information to Scott Flint and letting him or the city decide how to make use of it. Or would you prefer to have the others quietly inform the orc tribe there's a bounty on their guest? At worst it could cause Janet to try and flee south where they at least wouldn't be any more of a threat. For now at any rate.

Perhaps there's another obvious way of dealing with this situation that you're missing.

>What do?
>inform Scott Flint
I don't have any better ideas
Heading back to the city you decide to inform Scott Flint about the situation. He'll know the best way to handle it you're sure. If not it would be more a matter for the city diplomats. On the way you keep an eye out for any signs of the others. They're undoubtedly still out wandering the countryside, trying to track down some of those involved. Kossia intends to go looking for them if they don't return within an hour of sundown.

While heading across town to the hiring hall to see Scott it seems you and your cargo have attracted attention.
Garn soon mutters "oh no, not them," causing you to look up. The two older grey and tan feathered harpies you'd previously met have landed on a sidewalk awning along your path. Cellica mentioned their names were Ellsworth and Astoria.

"Greetings giant! We couldn't help noticing the prisoner you and your friends have there."

Garn sighs, deciding to just get on with this rather than waiting for them to come up with a reason to harass you.
"They attacked the airship delivery last night. We're taking them in, don't try to stop us."

The older harpies trade looks before turning to their attention to the captive.
"Really? Young lady, are you setting a bad example for the other children?"
"Some people believe prison is only one word... but you might end up thinking it’s a whole sentence!"

The younger harpy curses at them causing the old feather dusters to be momentarily taken aback.
"Don't be like that. You're simply jail-ous that we're free and you're not."

"I hate people like you," the bird lady grumbles, closing her eyes and trying to ignore everything going on.

"Your prisoner looks rather worn out."
"Yes, it's a good thing they're under ar-rest!"

Kossia at least finds the exchange amusing.
Your troupe draws plenty of looks when arriving at the hiring hall. Scott and a few other Talons members rush out to help with the prisoner, soon identifying them as one Desya Hawklidge. Known associates include one Verkoris Hawklidge, her brother.

"That's a terrible name!" decries Ellsworth, startling nearly everyone in the courtyard. Apparently you've been followed.
"I can't even be bothered to make a proper bird pun from that!"

Astoria soon lands on the roof next to their friend.
"You're saying you don't give a hoot?"
"No, and stop that."

Scott promises you'll all get pay and a standing increase for bringing in Desya. He can't promise anything for the additional information on the harpy farther east yet. If they're captured you'll get a bit of money for providing information leading to an arrest. As for actually going after the other two, a 12 gold bounty is now up for Verkoris Hawklidge, while there's a 5 gold bounty on Janet.

It's much the same for any ground pounder found to have been participating. 5 gold a head, but there needs to be evidence they were involved. Scott thinks to only people able to bring the other two harpies in will end up being other harpies.

"By that I mean younger harpies that actually give a damn!"
He says this loud enough for Ellsworth and Astoria to get the hint.
"Why I never!" Ellsworth scoffs.
Astoria looks to anyone within earshot. "Yep, he's done it again folks."
"What's that?" Ellsworth asks, sounding suspicious.

A few hours later Tara and her slightly battered looking team bring back two prisoners. This turns out to include the half-elf that had been wielding the magic sword. Most of those who participated in the raid had been hired by intermediaries without names being exchanged. It'll be difficult to track down any more.

According to officers from the Talons and the Blades the list of suspects could easily exceed one hundred names, despite there being maybe thirty individuals taking part. There are too many shady people in the region that have come up from the south to escape difficulties there.

Good news is that your pay has come through, in gold as promised. Scott requested a bonus for you since you were the only one present able to counter the attacking harpies in any meaningful way. Also since he's technically paying for Jib Jab as well. This works out to a massive lump sum of 20 gold.

Combined with the 4 gold you arrived at the city with you could afford an improved enchantment on your bow. Maybe more if you found someone willing to trade gold for silver at a higher rate than the banks.

[ ] Put it in the bank
[ ] Upgrade your bow
[ ] Try to to get more silver
[ ] Write-in?

I'm between bank and bow enchantments so, who would we need to talk to about improved enchantments and what would be some of those improved enchantments?

Need to either store or spend the gold before someone gets the unwise idea to cut our purse and rob us.
Rolled 7, 3 = 10 (2d12)

>who would we need to talk to about improved enchantments
Srayagoth can do some of it himself and would be happy for the business. Anything he can't do he knows the right people to talk to.

>and what would be some of those improved enchantments?
Most of them were covered here:
They would just be better versions. The enchanter suggests it might be best to put fairly neutral magic on a powerful bow like yours. Ideally ones that won't interfere with elemental magic. Holy, necromantic and illusion enchantments are still unavailable at this time and require plot unlocks.
>[ ] Write-in?
Spend our gold and silver on.....

I'm not quite sure. We could buy food and drinks for everyone, like a party. Donate some to the Temple of the Stone. Find another archer to learn from. Upgrade Jib Jab some more and ask if he wants something special. Try to find someone to buy magnifying glasses.
[ ] Put it in the bank
the rest of it
We could buy food and drinks for everyone and invite them, like a party. Donate some to the Temple of the Stone. Find another archer to learn from. Upgrade Jib Jab some more and ask if he wants something special. Try to find someone to buy magnifying glasses or night/dark vision googles.

Then put the rest in the bank.

Thank you

Well so far we've not had to much issue penetrating targets save for those with magical enchantments. But there is a matter of reach as the harpy showed last night.

But either increased range for targets flying out of normal reach or increased piercing for targets with tougher hides. Would be worth it.

But unless other anons want to go with those enchantments best to just store the gold for now.
>[ ] Upgrade your bow
>buy food and drinks for everyone and invite them, like a party.
Can be done if there are no objections.

>magnifying glasses or night/dark vision googles.
You can already see at night thanks to your amulet. A telescope sturdy enough to be used by a giant would be difficult to manufacture. Sharper vision may also be possible. According to Astoria of all people there is a potion seller that makes some capable of giving sharper vision. Mostly they're sold to old people so it might require a bit of modification for a giant.

"I'll tell you which store if you can answer me this; What do you call a mercenary librarian?"
"A swashbookler."

I do not see why not. But we are only buying the first round. Any after is on them.

>"I'll tell you which store if you can answer me this; What do you call a mercenary librarian?"

A Wizard?
So giant-sized goggles are out then? Bummer.
>So giant-sized goggles are out then? Bummer.
It's not a thing anyone has tried before, at least locally. It would require research at the very least.

"A Wizard?"
"Keep trying."
"A swashbookler?"
"That was a good one though," Ellsworth protests.
"It is," Astoria admits, "but it's not the answer."
"It's an answer."
"Look, don't turn this into a huge issue."
"You decided to riddle a giant, I'd say it's already a huge issue."
"A paperwight."
"A rogue scholar."
I say we do the research!

"A lettuce leaf."
"A loose binder."
"A printed paladin."
"An etching enchantress."
"A written warlock."
"A for-hire mimer."
Given your survival of the last mission and coming in to a small mountain of gold you've decided that a party is in order. Everyone you've gone on adventures with so far are invited for drinks that evening. Only the first round is on you, you make that clear. Though it's your idea Tara and Orlan each made enough money off the same job that they'll chip in as well.

For now your gold is going directly to the bank before anyone can steal it off you. The dwarves help escort you to one of the banks as you won't fit through the doors. Tara, Garn and Jib Jab head inside with your 24 gold to set up an account in your name. The palladium ore you'd hidden away between things at the bottom of your pack is also set aside in a safe deposit box for the time being.

"You know, if that ore was used it would cut enchantment costs quite a bit," Garn mentions.
"How much?"
"A fair ammount. You'd probably need two Palladium nodules to enchant your bow."

With the money safe you track down the old harpies and continue to interrogate them.
"A rogue scholar."
"A lettuce leaf."
"I don't... wait I get it. That's actually clever, but no."
"A loose binder."
"Maybe if they were a summoner."
"A paperwight."

This gets both of the harpies laughing and cackling.
"I'm going to remember that the next time the children say the library is haunted!"
"I'd say that was good enough. Just give it to em."

"A printed paladin," you ask, just to get a last one in.
"Alright, you can stop the barrage giant. The answer is, a sells-word!"
Astoria's answer gets a guffaw from a passing merc but most others on the street merely shake their heads and go about their business.


Ellsworth gives his friend a sidelong glance.
"You stole that joke didn't you?"
"No! I was filling my tax papers and spelled sellsword wrong."
"You're still listing yourself as a sellsword?"
"They wouldn't accept harpy heckler as a legit job description."
"I've just been putting public relations."
"They let you get away with that?"
"It's true isn't it? They never bothered to ask what kind of relations."

At any rate you're given the address. The potion maker is one of several located near the atrium, though it is missing signs of blast damage around the doors and windows common among the others. As with many places in town its entrance is not terribly giant friendly.

A goblin working there tells you his employer will be right out. A mostly elven looking woman wearing robes soon appears, introducing herself as Erjia. She's familiar with the potions that were mentioned to you but has never done any work for giants before. Aside from tailoring a few basic healing potions that is. Not terribly complicated work. Sharpening giant eyesight without any side effects will take a bit more work though.
"I'll require a deposit of 20 silver for the components needed to carry out the necessary research. The finished product could cost as much as 5 or 6 gold. If you need to place a hold on the order because of monetary concerns please let me know."

That seems reasonable all things considered.
While thinking it over Jib Jab curiously points out that Erjia seems to be hovering in the air as there are no feet touching the ground below the robes.

"That's because I'm a snake folk, the rest of my body is inside the building. You-" she points at Jib Jab, "need to stay outside my shop. The last three kobolds that were allowed in knocked over my alchemy stands. I have no idea how they always manage it. You can place orders from the door with one of my servants."

>Do you want to put a 20 silver deposit into potion research?
>>Do you want to put a 20 silver deposit into potion research?

Yes, help both ourselves or the other giants here now or in the future that might come.
Paying the potion maker, you hope that the research will be of use to the other giants in the long term.

That night the bar is busy. The friends you made on your long mission out east are there for the most part, as are many of the ranchers, soldiers and luthienites you've met. The other giants are in force as well, prepared to spend some of the coin they've made in their recent work.

Aman Rosales and Kossia Skaled each try their hand at impressing the crowd with song or music. Some songs are from the south, others more local. Argigoth leads a bunch in an easier song from the tribes that many of the settlers have adopted or perhaps adapted is more accurate. Even the dwarves get into it.

Gegor is mostly keeping an eye on Ferith, making sure the young man stays away from the alcohol for now. He himself is sticking to beer.

"This isn't against vows of your order?" you ask him.
Looking around Argigoth certainly doesn't seem to think so.
"Moderation," Gegor answers. "Everything in moderation, or at least in balance. I know there are some temples in the order that won't allow it but most of those are in very precarious positions. Others that find themselves doing battle frequently against more conventional enemies will tend to allow a bit of alcohol to help with nerves.
A rough rule I've encouraged is never have more than what you'd take into the wilds for a month. That far out anyone will be conserving pack space as much as they can."

When Cirus suggests the giants contribute your own song Drummer the bartender is quick to put a stop to this.
"Nonono! You'll bring the place down!"
This is met with dismay from the party goers.
"We won't use stone tongue." Flora promises.

After much badgering Drummer relents, but makes you vow to only do one song. It's a rousing one about the rocks being crashed by the wind and the sea. Of stone kin, hills and plains, from Bjorn's ice falls to the Typhon fire peaks. It goes only for maybe a little longer than promised. Riordan shows up with a bunch of the guard asking everyone to break it up and especially for the giants to stop singing. A few of the smaller folk that had been nearest to you aren't looking so well now. The elves especially.

Once everyone has recovered their senses though they agree that it was a rather good get together.
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You're woken the next morning by the unmistakable sound of a giant knocking on the door of your room.
"Ulf, get up we may have a situation."
You and Jib Jab gear up and join Cirus who looks armed for battle. He leads you towards the south gate. Flora and Argen are already there along with a reinforced group of guards.

You're about to ask what's going on when you hear the unmistakable sound of a giant coming from outside the city walls. He sounds a bit angry. Heading outside you see that the newly arrived giant is dressed in a mix of hides, patched together armor, shields and even barding intended for a war horse. He has a mean looking club that may have been an attempt to weld together salvaged swords and spears into a warhammer.

On seeing your group he beats his chest.
"Finally! All the way north, no giants to be found. Nothing worth fighting. Told there was work for sellswords and no fighting to be found! Even tipped over a wagon and couldn't get a fight going. Not for twenty days! There wouldn't be this many giants in one place if there wasn't a good fight nearby."
The giant swings his hammer-club around before resting it on his shoulder.
"I'm Sétanta, The Hammer of Andalucia! Tell me what we're up against here."

"Sure wish we had Vaft here for backup right now," mutters Cirus.

>What say?
Or will you leave it up to Flora?
Someone finally got it. I was starting to get fairly blatant with it.
To the others "Seems like we got a volunteer for fighting ogres"
After that leave it to Flora she wants to be the union leader let her try to keep this murderhobo in line.
supporting: >>4703452

Supporting >>4703452
I was sure somebody posted a pic the first time they showed up. Guess that was just my own mental picture then.
"Seems like we got a volunteer for fighting ogres."

Flora quirks an eyebrow at that suggestion.
"We might indeed."

Stepping forward Flora speaks up.
"There are plenty of things in the north the need fighting, and even more that just need the threat of a fight. I know the hiring hall is happy to have anyone as long as they can tell the difference."

Sétanta locks eyes with each of you in turn. He's not like other giants you've met before. His countenance is more like that of an orc or a bulldog in some ways. Eventually he speaks again, directed as much toward Flora as the rest of you.
"Looks like most of the others giants here defer to you. So who put you in charge?"

Argen and Cirus both point to Flora, answering in unison; "She did."

Sétanta growls.
"All the womenfolk among giants in the south would rather stay at home, order the men around and send them to do their dirty work. The moment we start trouble with one of the kingdoms or tribes of smaller folk though, they get all worried. Sure go out and fight whatever, right up until it can blow back on 'em. Are you going to be the same?"

Flora crosses her arms.
"Most giant women are smart enough to know when not to fight. That means finding the right things to fight over. Or maybe even using their heads and realising when it would be stupid to pick a fight with a more powerful foe!"
She knocks on the side of her skull for emphasis.

The new arrival scoffs.
"Always the same. I am a hammer against any foe, anywhere. Ogres, demons, even other giants. My fury is unmatched!"

Fury? Oh no. You suddenly remember what Kossia brought up yesterday.
Flora keeps her cool though, calmly looking to the rest of you backing her up.

"And I'm unmatched because I believe in making friends. How many giants do you think you could take on at once?"

This gives Sétanta pause. A muscle head or not he's probably seen enough fights to know what he's capable of.
"Any two of you. Possibly along with two wall turrets."

Thinking the situation over a bit more the mighty giant eventually comes to a conclusion.
"Very well! We shall not be enemies, but remember this; I will look for fortune or glory here in the north with or without you. If you wish my aid the conditions are one or the other."

That seems to be good enough by the rest of you. Flora signals for the city guard to stand down.
As things begin to calm down Sétanta approaches the south gateway.
"You, archer that hides at the back. What is your name?"

"You are a good shot Ulf?"
You'd certainly say so if the two high altitude harpy hits you got the other night are a good indicator.

"Are you familiar with these?"
Sétanta rummages in his throwing pack and tosses you a projectile. Rather than being made of stone this one seems to be iron. Cast iron if you're not wrong.
"That is the throwing stone of choice in the deep south. It is called a cannon ball."

You've heard of these but not why they would be used over stone. The other giant laughs.
"There are less magical siege weapons available in the south! Some nations have started using powder like fireworks to hurl throwing stones from cannons. They cast these from iron to be all the same size."

That's interesting. You're a little put off by the other giant's ability to switch his aggression from on to off so quickly. Most of your kind take quite awhile to go from one to the other and back again.
>Any questions for him?
Pretty cool hammer you got there did you make it yourself?
purely as a hypothetical how many ogres do you think you could take?
Ever see any elemental giant weapons back south?

No real question for him. Though I have to wonder if he is a berserker or what the worlds equivalent for barbarian who can go ragey and back.
Best to make conversation rather than end up on the other man's bad side.

>Pretty cool hammer you got there did you make it yourself?
"At first, and it often fell to pieces. Once to my benefit. Later I paid blacksmiths to fuse them together more properly, adding pieces with each campaign."

>purely as a hypothetical how many ogres do you think you could take?
"Many if they could be strung out. I've tried hitting groups all at once but they're too fat to knock down all at once like pins or trees. They prefer to group together like a landslide. It is annoying."

>Ever see any elemental giant weapons back south?
"No, nor am I interested. I would forge my own path, not rely on toys left from a time long ago like so many kings that may hire me."

So much for that idea.

>Though I have to wonder if he is a berserker or what the worlds equivalent for barbarian who can go ragey and back.
Berserkers are a Barbarian subclass but you've never heard of a giant becoming one before. Sétanta would certainly be classed as a Barbarian of some sort given his apparent fighting style.

>Find another archer to learn from.
That may be difficult but you leave word with the Talons that you'd be interested in this.
>Upgrade Jib Jab some more and ask if he wants something special.
He's good right now and will still be doing ranger training in his off time for a couple of weeks.
Note: I am trying to keep the pastebin up to date with character names. Less so on the cash and arrows.
While the rest of you are a little worried the newly arrived giant could still cause problems, he's soon boasting of deeds performed in the south to a small crowd of mercenaries. It's keeping things near the hiring hall busy.

While there you ask Gegor what happened with that "Strange Activity" the Paladins were looking into the other day. He's quick to answer that it's rather complicated.
"Complicated how?"
"As in demon summoning gone very strange complicated."
"Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know Ulf. We caught the most recent summoning arrival and they're over at the temple until the order figures out what to do with them."

Local Contracts

>Track Down a Deserter (Army/AirCorps)
An NCO with the Air Corps has deserted their post with no explanation, though the officers don't believe this is a kidnapping. Some suspect they may have been responsible for the raid on the platinum run the other night and fled as a result. Either way they need to be tracked down. If involved in the previous night action they may have numbers on their side. As a result the Air Corps is looking to add some firepower to their squad.

>An offer you CAN refuse (MMRC/ADMIN)
An official mission related to the Black Bear Clans internal war. This one is bordering on the edge of being a longer contract. Establish diplomatic relations with the Rock Crusher Tribe and the Blue Tempest tribe. The city wants to ascertain if it will be possible to keep the peace with these two if they happen to win their war against Chief Urag of the Bear-skull Tribe. A large party is recommended.

Long Term Contracts (Weeks)

>Trade Missions (MMRC/IND)
With the yearly slow caravans now in town additional trade missions are being undertaken with the local tribes. Pay is 2 gold per week, with a 1 week minimum. Jobs of this type will be available through the rest of the season.

>A distant delivery (PaladinS)
A Paladin from the south needs to deliver a package to the distant wilds of the north. They're willing to pay an astounding 20 gold for a month long contract. That's more than double the pay of regular work. (About what you made from the platinum run after the bonus)

>A Strong Sword Arm (IND/Tribal)
Much as predicted what had been a cold war between the Black Bear Clans is beginning to escalate. Chief Urag's contacts in the city have begun to offer contracts for good fighters. The city is still trying to remain neutral in the war but can't block legal filed contracts. Expect pay to be offered in less conventional means. Anything from orcish runes, trade goods or perhaps even slaves captured from opposing tribes.

>Ogre Village
Scouts have located what would appear to be an entire village of Ogres in the Black Hills. A diplomatic party is being prepared and there have been requests for an escort able to handle themselves. This will probably mean hiring most if not all of the local giants.
Sétanta might be useful to have along unless you're worried he'll start a fight.
>Titan Metals Prospecting (ADMIN / ENC)
You've been informed that elements of the Enchanters Collective are starting to get the ball rolling on prospecting for Titan Metals. This won't be quick and it will still be several days at best before they could be ready to depart. With the war across the river threatening to draw off potential escorts they won't finish preparations until they're certain enough sellswords can be hired.
>>Track Down a Deserter (Army/AirCorps)

>>Titan Metals Prospecting (ADMIN / ENC)

Let them know we are interested in joining this mission.

>>Track Down a Deserter (Army/AirCorps)
Sign on for this

Also, I am loving your harpies here.
>>Ogre Village
>Scouts have located what would appear to be an entire village of Ogres in the Black Hills. A diplomatic party is being prepared and there have been requests for an escort able to handle themselves. This will probably mean hiring most if not all of the local giants.
>Sétanta might be useful to have along unless you're worried he'll start a fight.
>Let them know we are interested in joining this mission.
This can be done. It will make it easier for them to recruit others.

>Track Down a Deserter (Army/AirCorps)
After signing up it doesn't take long to track down the group in the assembly area.
The Air Corps personnel count for two and have already recruited three others, including Aeson. Always good to have a reliable mage along.

Scout division members introduce themselves as Darcassan, a dark skinned southern elf male who will be acting as the party cleric. He's recently transferred to the Air Corps from the Imperial Army and has been selected to lead the team as he's not close to the target personally.
Backing them up is Urshul, a female orc spellblade. She's not terribly interested in conversing right now.

Arix is a centaur male from the northern plains and seems to be well armored, carrying a heavy two handed sword.
Sandra Carlisle is a halfling druid. She'll help with scouting duties and is already very curious about your bow.

Darcassan is of the opinion that you could use a proper ranger. Jib Jab is still in training, and would certainly be useful, but he has a lot to learn still.

Tara and Kal'al are the only two rangers you and know personally, though if you ask the latter along a few of his friends might want to accompany. Urshul says she can requisition three more horses.

>Who do you want to recruit? Or would you rather go with this group?
Go with the group.
Can we ask Ithica Rilynn to come with us?
Right, I keep forgetting about the Ranchers half the time because I wanted an easy way to divide up the various groups of sellswords.
So yes, any of them really since they all have their own horses.
supporting: >>4703852
"I've been meaning to work with Ithica Rilynn. She's a ranger."
Aeson knows where to find her and it isn't far outside the city. With that settled the group heads out the west gate, sweeping south. The ice elf has soon convinced her to sign on and you catch sight of her readying a horse.

"Riggs I have to go! We'll leave it for later!"
Once Ithica is brought up to speed she agrees both that this needs to get done and a ranger could be helpful.

Darcassan has gone through the records of the missing officer, one Florimond Schwartz, tracing potential family members and contacts in the area. Another team has already been working inside the city for the past day without any results. There are three Farms and homesteads on the list but hitting one may set off warnings to the others if they're linked in some way.

A homestead to the west belongs to a family member of the deserter. He'd been sending them quite a bit of money lately and no one has had a chance to go out there yet with everything going on.
Arix huffs in impatience.
"This entire thing is going to be an embarrassment if he's just hiding under a bed out there."

The next farm to the south east belongs to a friend of Schwartz. They seemed to be exchanging parcels and letters on a regular basis and money was definitely changing hands.

One farthest south near the trade road is a horse ranch. They're known to be well stocked with arms to deter thieves. The Air Corps supposedly got some horses from this ranch but many of the records covering exchanges with them have gone missing or been misfiled.

"I'm still fairly new in the region and would appreciate suggestions on where to start first."

Ithica points to the second farm on the list.
"Uh... so a friend of a friend of mine, no relation to anyone the people here have met, they get their spellgun cartridges here."

That's certainly interesting. None of the people attacking you during the platinum run were using wand weaponry. They were certainly using a lot of arrows though. There may also be a surviving hostile harpy or two in the region on the off chance any of these are related.

>Where to start first?
[ ] Family Homestead
[ ] Wand Farm
[ ] Horse Ranch
>[ ] Horse Ranch
>[ ] Horse Ranch

check the horse ranch
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The horse ranch is well positioned to gain access to most parts of the lands surrounding the city. Also all of the horses that were used that night had to have come from somewhere and surely people would have noticed if those that were borrowed hadn't been returned by now.

Along the way the druid Sandra makes sure to ask questions.
"Were there any gate records for him? The Dwarves insist on keeping detailed records of everything."

Darcassan pulls out a small notebook.
"Florimond Schwartz departed the city through the western gate two days ago, but there have been several small convoys passing along the road since. No way to track him directly with all of the traffic and according to the gate guard he wasn't wearing his uniform. I doubt many travelers would recognise him."

"Darcassan is kind of a clunky name," Ithica points out. "Any chance we can call you Cass or Cassie?"

The cleric frowns at this. "No, you may not."
Glancing over you see Urshul briefly grin at her superior's discomfort.

Jib Jab meanwhile seems fascinated by several birds that perch on top of Sandra or her pony. The druid lifts one up with her hand.
"You probably don't see too many of these around. They're from the storm coast far to the west. The locals call them a Blade Thrush."

The bird suddenly lifts its wings outward into a strange circular position. Were it larger you might almost consider it to look dangerous.

"These kill more people each year in the storm coast counties than dire rabbit attacks do in all the south combined."
>What say?
Stopping here, resuming tomorrow.
I won't be running monday or friday? next week it looks like. Other days are up in the air a bit still and I'll try to give as much notice ahead of time as possible if I have to cancel a day.
Act dismissive of the birds.
>>What say?
How? It looks to small to be dangerous
You remain doubtful of this claim.
"How? It looks too small to be dangerous."

"Perhaps because dire rabbits don't exist?" Darcassan ventures.
"Yes they do," Ithica counters.

This soon starts a small argument among the party ofer the existence of the rabbits let alone the effectiveness of the birds.
"No way a rabbit could bite a man's head off," is Arix's position.
"That's because they don't, they just snap people's necks with their feet."
"I've only heard of the head biting."

Even the well traveled Aeson is doubtful of the claims by either side.
"Ulf, you know the south better than I. What do you say to this?"

[ ] Dire rabbits aren't real
[ ] They are absolutely real
>[ ] They are absolutely real
they're tasty snacks
>[ ] They are absolutely real
I heard about one guarding a cave killing 3 armoured knights and sending several others fleeing. They had to have a cleric give them a blessed explosive to kill it.
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They are absolutely real. They're also unable to snap the neck of a giant.
"Taste good. Make for a nice snack."

Both the southern elves give you looks of disbelief, likely for different reasons.
"Y-you can't be serious."
"The ones I had were a bit bony though."
Sandra sighs in annoyance, hiding her face in her hands upon hearing this.

Aeson keeps his detached viewpoint and simple asks how you happened to come across some of them.
"Several knights were bored waiting for a siege to be concluded and wandered off. Some of them came running back screaming later in the day, claiming the others had been killed by a rabbit. I went with clerics and a few of the survivors to see if they could save the knights that were attacked.
The knights were dead but at least when the rabbit attacked me it gave the cleric a chance to blast it with a light spell. Would have been too fast for me to catch otherwise. Then I just snapped its neck and ate it."

Darcassan sputters.
"This has to be a fabrication. How could a rabbit kill knights?"
"Maybe because they were only wearing mail? Plate would have protected them better. Their kicks were hard enough even I had bruises."

Even with your input many remain doubtful about the rabbits or the blade thrush. Sandra seems content to wait for an opportunity to show off her birds abilities.
"They can harden their wingtips with magic and throw themselves into a spin. Just one is able to chop down a sapling. I think they must have been experimented on by one of the Counts. I swear those wizards have no sense of right and wrong."
In a few hours the party arrives at the horse ranch. Sure enough their numbers are running a bit on the low side.

"Where are all your horses?" Darcassan asks the man in charge.

"We had a run on sales and rental. People setting up more fast caravans or homesteads, that sort of thing."
"How does rental work?" you ask. "Especially if people don't bring the horse back?"
"It's a deposit system my brother-in-law set up. Put a deposit down worth the sale cost of the horse. You bring it back, you get the deposit back. There are plenty of people from the city like sellswords who need a horse on short notice but can't afford to invest permanently. Odds are good they're really going to want that money back."

"Anyone tried to take their money back by force?" Ithica asks.
"Happens a lot. It's why we don't like to keep money on site if we can. What we do have is locked up tight."

>Anything you want to ask the locals?
Aeson clears his throat.
"Danson. Kal Danson."
"Mister Danson, we'll need to see your records, along with your weapon stockpiles."

"Now hold on here. I'd be happy to answer questions, but defense of our property has been handled mostly by us alone for years. The only help we've ever gotten is from the city guard light horse on occasion. The city, not the Air Corps."

Darcassan pulls out some papers.
"This is a warrant from the city givings us permission to look around. We're not here to confiscate any of your livelihood."

"Hmm, fine, I'll show you the stockpile, but look don't touch yea hear?"

Moving to head inside, the elf is stopped by Urshul.
"Darcassan? The Giant?"

"Oh, right. Your brother-in-law, where is he?"
"Should be out by the stables."

"Urshul, you and Ulf go speak to him while we're busy inside."

Heading around the main building you make for the barns and stables. Urshul vaults the fences while you simply step over them. Looking around you initially fail to find anyone.
"Are we looking in the right place?"

"Orc!" shouts a young sounding voice from one of the barns. A boy who can't be older than thirteen charges out wielding a pitchfork and yelling his impression of a battle cry. Urshul draws her blade and uses it to catch the crossguard of the farming tool, halting the young man's charge with little effort.

"Hello? I'm wearing an Air Corps uniform," the spellblade user points out.
"Huh? Oh!" the farmer backs off then seems to notice you standing there. "Oh my god a giant!"
The boy falls over and scrambles back a bit.
Unperturbed you move to get on with your job.
"We're looking for Kal Danson's brother-in-law?"

"Uncle Corin? I saw him riding out towards the western fields a few minutes ago. He was in an awful hurry."

[ ] Pursue
[ ] Get the others first
[ ] Write-in
[ ] Pursue
we pursue, I presume jib jab is with us.send Urshul to get the others.
>[ ] Pursue
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"Which way? Which way did he go?" you try not to shout at the boy.

"Uh, that way!" he points, initially due west then slightly more south.

You don't wait, charging off across the fields, Jib Jab once again hanging on for dear life.
"Get the others!" you shout over your shoulder, only to see that Urshul is already halfway back to the house.

With the amount of running you're constantly doing in the north you could enter into a tournament some day. Giant racing. Would the smaller folk care for such a thing? Or would other giants for that matter? Regardless you thunder across the fields looking for signs of horses. Most are in a pasture nearer to the stables making this easier.

Jib Jab points to signs of recent passage and you change course. The trail is obvious enough to you in the tall grass but once it reaches the tree line things become more difficult. Fortunately all you have to do is crash through into another clearing to find your target. A number of riders were already scattering from the sound of your approach, but it's not lost on you when one shouts in greater alarm upon seeing you.
"Oh shit, it's him!"

Five riders each take off in different directions. The one heading north dressed in work clothes must be Corin. The one headed due south meanwhile seemed to recognise you.

Which one do you want to go after?
He is confirmed one of the bandits from yesterday.

Corin's appearance is known so he can be found by others, and i doubt he is the ring leader.
So, tie breaker anyone?
if none comes forth, roll a d2?
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Drawing your dagger you quickly scratch an arrow into the ground, pointing in the direction of the rider headed south. With that done you charge off in pursuit. That rider recognized you, which means he was there that night. Maybe even close enough to put some arrows through you.

Corin is already known to the rest of the party by now, he won't have as many places to run. If he does escape the city will put a bounty out to bring him in alive.

Crossing the field and crashing through more trees you head deeper into forested terrain. Jib Jab helps point out holes in the underbrush you miss. At other times you have to stop to listen for movement before charging on again. About two kilometers south of the clearing were you saw the meeting you're back out into mixed farmland again. After only a short breather you spot the rider heading for a stream that then leads to a deeper gully.

"Local know land better? Try lose us?"
You think Jib Jab has the right idea. He'll try to lose you through knowledge of the terrain and layout of the farms. Sections of forest are still thick in the area which he could use to break line of sight.

Will you continue the pursuit or risk putting some arrows down range to try and slow him?
tear gas arrow
>>4704765 supporting
roll 2d100
Rolled 47, 53 = 100 (2d100)

Rolled 71, 33 = 104 (2d100)

You fire off one of your tear gas arrows in the hopes of slowing the rider down. Though the bolt is on target, releasing a cloud of gas in their way, the horse continues on its way. The rider is left coughing and trying to rinse out their eyes with a water pouch but doesn't stop. It doesn't look like the gas really affected the horse in any way.

A second arrow has similar results, continuing to slow the man and allowing you to keep up. Perhaps even close in on them. A good thing too as with him cutting through rougher terrain, thickets, streams and everything else in the county, you surely would have lost him if not for having gained so much ground.

The real question now is if he's smart enough to draw you away from his compatriots, or if he'll lead you towards a hideout. Either way the three of you are rapidly approaching the edges of the mantle lands. That doesn't mean there won't be homesteads, farms or cabins, but they won't be under city protection. In theory if it's beyond the border you could torch a place to make things easier.
Though that might be a bad idea in the long run.

Eventually the man pulls up next to a small log cabin, shouting loudly. Deciding this might be a good time to catch your own breath you take cover behind a particularly large lilac bush.
Eventually a man with a wide brim hat and scraggly white beard opens the door, quickly pulling the younger man's hood over his head. There's a good deal of yelling and the older fellow rushes back inside. The younger one you've been following heads around the cabin and returns with a second horse.

Did you want to move in now to try and capture or subdue them? Or wait and try to follow them?
>wait and try to follow them.
don't think we can expect to keep keeping up with men on horse back who knows the land better than us. A harpy in your hand is better than 10 heckling you from the roof.
we could try to scare the first man into the house as well and then barricade the door, and wait for reinforcements.
"We're going in. Let's try to capture them," you tell Jib Jab.
The kobold responds in the affirmative before you charge out of cover and towards the cabin. Your rapid foot falls shake the ground like steady drumming.

"Hedge is that you? Oh shit! Hurry, he's already here!"
The younger rider scrambles back onto his horse but by then you've already crossed half the distance from your hiding place to the cabin.

"If you value your lives surrender!" you shout.

The older fellow sticks his head out the door and panics, dropping the gear he was carrying and raising his hands. By this point though his friend has already tried to spur his horse into another getaway. Giving him enough lead you nock an arrow and fire, downing the horse and causing the rider to tumble down onto the ground.

"You, check that your friend isn't dead."
The older man nods absently and does as you say. Though the rider is injured it's not very serious. Taking their weapons you place them on top of the roof where they'll not be easily accessible if they escape.

Now the better question is, do you wait until the others catch up, have Jib Jab investigate the cabin for you, or head back now to tell the others where this place is?
You certainly wouldn't be much use searching for clues in there.

>your orders?
>have Jib Jab get the others
Could we remove part of the roof to make sure its safe for jib jab to go in alone?

Make our own window.

Have Jib Jab search the house for anything incriminating and then tie them up, out here where we can see them. And then we tell them to go inside and wait. We get a big rock/ boulder place it in front of the exits. And then we leave to get the others.
seems reasonable, Jib Jab might lack some common sense as to what is significant as a clue, can he read by the way?
>Make our own window.
I guess you could?

>can he read by the way?
Kobolds have some basic runes, as do orcs. He's been learning a few things like shop signs but proper reading is still a long way off.
Good point. A quick look wouldn't hurt as his sense of smell is great and that might help but otherwise he might be best off at getting the rest of the party.

Did we recover the tear gas arrows we shot?
>Did we recover the tear gas arrows we shot?

That's what I did that roll for! Recovery of arrows from the previous night. You picked up some and Tara's team did as well. Couldn't remember why I was rolling, only that I was supposed to do it.
Both the prisoners are secured outside, far from anything they might use to escape. Jib Jab has a quick look around for anything inside the cabin. Mostly he just brings out weapons, arrows, and a wheel of cheese.

"I will keep these two under guard. You should head back along our path and bring the others here."

The kobold is immediately concerned. He hasn't spent a lot of extended time away from you in the region apart from in the city, where others are nearby, or as part of a larger group. The fact that these are supposedly civilized lands is the part that worries him the most. Plenty of farmers might try to stick him with the pointy ends of whatever implements are at hand.

"Jib Jab you are good at sneaking and you're being trained in the ways of rangers too. Simply hide if you need to. If you can't find the party anywhere just return here. I'll wait for you."
That seems to be enough to convince him he can do this. Jib Jab heads out on foot, neither of you thinking he could handle the remaining horse.

Looking through the arrows you notice quite a few have odd markings on the haft that you can't identify.
"What are these?"
"I'm not answering a thing giant, not until I'm before a magistrate. We have laws in these here parts an I'm gonna take my chances with the system."
Fair enough.

It's several hours later when the rest of the party arrives. Or most of it, they're missing a few members. Aeson and Ithica are tracking one or more of the other trails. Everyone else figured that you must have followed that particular trail for a reason. Between the riders attempts to lose you there were quite a few areas they'd had trouble picking up your trail. Fortunately Jib Jab happened along or it might have been sunset before their arrival.

The others conduct a search of the cabin and come up with a few papers that they say can be used as evidence. It's not a lot but it is helpful. It doesn't take long to load up the two captives on their horse and head out.

Things were done quickly enough to give you time to get back to the trade road and the ranch by sunset. Darcassan and Urshul confirm that the arrows are from the air corps. They may have been provided to the ranch in lieu of other forms of payment for horses.

On that note, the ranch was missing some of their arrow stocks which Mr Danson had not been aware of. He's now rather cross with Corin, but for the moment is more worried about the costs of changing the locks on their armory.
"And if he was stealing from the armory who knows what else he may have done. If you catch him we'll have to come into town to have a family meeting."

Once things have been straightened out for the moment the party heads for Silver Mantle. Darcassan wants to deposit the prisoners somewhere safe before investigating the other two locations. The rest of the party should do much the same if they manage to catch whoever it is they're after.

Then again it wouldn't take all of you just to escort two tied up men. You could split the party, either to investigate another site tonight or to help out the two elves.

[ ] Get the prisoners to town
[ ] Split up to check another site
[ ] Split up to help Aeson and Ithica
[ ] Write-in?
>[ ] Split up to help Aeson and Ithica

Get the prisoner back to the town. But make sure our fellows are also okay.
>[ ] Split up to help Aeson and Ithica
You have your amulet and can see in the dark with it. You'd be more than happy to go help Aeson and Ithica with their efforts. Darcassan seems to like this plan.

"Good idea Ulf. Urshul, you head back to the city with the others."

As the orc does not seem to appreciate this suggestion Darcassan relents.
"Very well, Sandra can come with me to relay what's happening to you and Arix."

Urshul tries to politely get her point across.
"Sir, respectfully, I have the better night vision and more experience with local terrain."
"Alright I see where you're coming from. I'm still doing it this way though. This seems like a good a time as any to gain more experience since it's not particularly dangerous."

"Very well. Best of luck sir."
With that the orc and centaur split off to deliver the prisoners back to the city.

Thanks to Sandra's birds, along with a few local ones she talks to, you're eventually able to get a rough bearing on the direction of the others. Druid or not Sandra points the party to a lane that cuts through some of the more difficult terrain, eventually allowing all of you to catch up with the elves in a little over an hour. They had doubled back to meet up once they heard you coming.

"Any luck?"
"We passed up keeping track of Corin to track one of the others."
Ithica pulls out a map and Darcassan summons up a point of light from his finger tip to better see it.

"We think they're holed up at a small inn near a crossroads. I've been in the place twice before, they have a bar on ground floor. Decent food usually, so it tends to be busy."

"I'm the only one they saw," you point out.
Corin would have told the others about your arrival before you broke through the trees. Maybe even seen the air corps uniforms worn by Darcassan and Urshul.

"I'm well known as someone who works with the city guard," Aeson brings up, "but Ithica or Sandra could probably enter to look around without drawing suspicion."

Darcassan wants to consider all options available.
"Ulf is the only one here who has seen any of their faces. We have enough firepower that we could surround the inn and demand those involved in the raid on the platinum shipment turn themselves in. Might be a bit messy though."

Or more provocative actions could be taken. You still have one tear gas arrow left and in a confined space it would be more effective.

Sandra snaps her fingers to get everyone's attention.
"We might be getting sidetracked here. Is our job to track down Florimond Schwartz, or to deal with the platinum run raid? Even if Schwartz did help them, that doesn't necessarily mean finding everyone involved and arresting them will magically make our guy turn up."

>Do you have any additional suggestions?
[ ] Ithica infiltrates to gather intel
[ ] Call out offenders
[ ] Tear gas the place
[ ] Not here to arrest them, just Schwartz?
[ ] Write-in?
>[ ] Not here to arrest them, just Schwartz?
I'm going to make a late night grocery run tonight so I can do a few posts in the morning tomorrow before work.

>[ ] Ithica infiltrates to gather intel

Have Ithica go in to get a feel/ look for things. If our suspect is in there either they will hole up in there. Or they will try and flee. Either way no need to cause a scene just yet.

Once Ithica gets some information, they can leave or keep an eye on the guy until the rest of the group returns. Or she can just inform the owner that one of their guests is wanted by the city.
>Ithica infiltrates to gather intel
>[ ] Ithica infiltrates to gather intel
Best to infiltrate first, to see if there's anything worth starting a fight over. Also it wouldn't be terribly nice to break the locals things for no reason.
Ithica heads inside along with Sandra, who leaves one of her birds with her horse.

Two hours stretch by with only one local leaving the inn. Eventually the two return to give their report.
"Managed to ask some questions of the bartender without anyone noticing I think. Near as I can tell nobody here has seen Schwartz in the last week or so. There was only one person in the place who seemed to be acting suspicious. They had a hood up and were backed into a corner in such a way they could watch the door without giving away their features."
"Did you get their name?"

Ithica shakes her head.
"Bartender told me if I didn't know to not ask. I know I've met about one third of the people inside?"

Possibly a dead end on Schwartz aside from the one acting suspicious.

[ ] Pick them up when they leave in the morning.
[ ] Put Ulf near the front door. See who panics when leaving
[ ] Let's just move on
[ ] Write-in
>[ ] Let's just move on
Sandra's previous point about getting sidetracked is no less relevant now than it was before. Maybe even more so. If finding Schwartz is the objective chasing down everyone involved in the platinum raid isn't necessarily the best way to do that.

The other two locations still need to be visited.

[ ] Family Homestead
[ ] Wand Farm
>[ ] Wand Farm
>[ ] Wand Farm
The so called "Wand Farm" is closer and has the potential for the greatest firepower. If those sort of munitions are being sold to highwaymen it could pose a serious threat to future airships. Why it is that little or no wand type weapons were used the other night you don't know. Maybe they didn't have much spare and wanted a clear shot?

Regardless of any links to the raid it is linked to the deserter. That's the focus right now.

It's nearly midnight when the party arrives and from what you can see it looks like any other typical farm. They have a few different types of outbuildings with odd layouts but that's about it.

"Should we wait until morning?" Ithica asks.
"It would buy time for Urshul and Arix to catch up."
Aeson points out.

"If would probably spook the hell out of them to have people showing up at night," Sandra chuckles. "That might actually be a good thing... or a very bad thing."

Everyone looks to Darcassan who continues to survey the area.
"Hmm... I have heard that tired people are more likely to talk, and anyone who runs now would have a harder time escaping."

[ ] Wait until morning
[ ] Wait, but have Jib Jab or others scout the area
[ ] Knock knock open up
>[ ] Wait, but have Jib Jab or others scout the area
>[ ] Wait, but have Jib Jab or others scout the area
Don't want anybody to do something stupid.